Being a farmer is part of my calling, but it is only one of my vocational passions. I have recently been working to reweave the threads of a rather tattered call to ordained ministry, a call I plan to pursue in the United Church of Christ. (This is a rather new denomination for me, but I've worked in a wide range of churches before, including United Methodist, Disciples of Christ, Presbyterian, and Mennonite congregations.) Now I am struggling to reconnect the different aspects of my vocational life. I've recently joined a webring full of wise, wild and wonderful women--and a few men--who inspire and support this process. Today I'm doing my first official "RevGalBlogPals Meme."
Sally over at RevGalBlogPals writes:
"Holy Week is almost upon us, I suspect that ordained or not, other revgal/pals calendars look a bit like mine, FULL, FULL, FULL.....
Jesus was great at teaching us to take time out, even in that last week, right up to Maundy Thursday he withdrew, John's gospel tells us he hid! He hid not because he was afraid, but because he knew that he needed physical, mental and spiritual strength to get through...
So faced with a busy week:
1. What restores you physically?
Singing. It is one of the most healing pursuits I know. It helps me breathe. The sound moving through my body shakes loose my grief, releases my joy, and awakens a resonance in my bones. I don't sing often enough, but when I do, every part of my being is energized. They say the same space in the brain that processes music also serves to modulate the space between ourselves and others. When we are worn down by community stress and difficult relationships, no wonder there's such healing power in singing together!
2. What strengthens you emotionally/ mentally?
My friendships with strong women and gentle men, and the laughter and understanding that move back and forth between us. Another source of strength is my sense of rootedness: in my American pioneer and Celtic immigrant heritage, in the multigenerational wisdom and stories of my mentors and kinfolk, and in my own sense of calling and connection to the sea and the land. I grew up on an island and have learned that my emotions and thoughts have their own tidal rhythms. It is only when I forget to attend to these rhythms that I lose my balance.
3. What encourages you spiritually?
Gardening! When I plant and tend and nourish and harvest in the garden, I do these things for my soul as well. The garden has always been a safe, restorative spiritual space for me, even with all the weeds and pests and the chickens pecking holes in the tomatoes. I grew up gardening, and even when my mother and I quarreled and misunderstood each other, we always spoke gently and lovingly together as we shared the work of gardening. When I neglect the garden, I often find I am neglecting myself as well. When I'm angry and despairing, there's nothing like a session of weed-pulling to settle my spirit. The herbal scents, the touch of wind, the feel of dirt on my hands, the hoped-for "just desserts" of ripe fruit, the satisfaction of wrongs immediately righted... ahhh!
4. Share a favourite poem or piece of music from the coming week.
Gerard Manley Hopkins is, for me, the ultimate Holy Week poet, but I'm hard-pressed to choose between "Carrion Comfort," "Peace," "God's Grandeur," and "That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire..."
5.There may be many services for you to attend/ lead over the next week, which one are you most looking forward to and why? If there aren't do you have a favourite day in Holy week if so which one is it?
I have always had a deep appreciation for Maundy Thursday and the Tenebrae service. How many other rituals allow us to name, accept, and embrace the shadows that haunt us and surround us? So much of Christian worship--and pop culture--is focused on light and brightness and "being of good cheer..." I find myself hungry for these rare opportunities to acknowledge the darkness--the blank emptiness of despair and the gestational, dream-filled fullness of the Soul's Dark Night.