Holding on and letting go

I haven’t blogged in some time. There’s been plenty to blog about but I haven’t known where to start.

I am acutely aware of everything in my life being in transition and many things being undecided at this point.

My husband and I talk to our J2A parents a lot about holding on and letting go when it comes to their teenagers. It seems that I find myself in their position now with many aspects of my life.

Seminary plans for me aren’t finalized yet (it has taken forever to get all of the materials together!) and my husband is waiting to hear from law schools. I worry about one of us not getting in somewhere and how we will afford it all when we do quit our jobs and leave for school.

Our house needs to go on the market asap but we aren’t going to be able to finish getting it ready until my internship at Church by the Creek is over. I worry that we won’t be able to find someone to buy it, or that it will be on the market forever (I can’t maintain the required standard of cleanliness and lack of dog and cat hair for all that long!)

I am trying to go through things and decide what to take with us, what to store, and what to give away. Sounds simple until I start doing it. I keep telling myself that I need to be less attached to material things. Grrr….

My internship at CBTC ends on Easter. I have been dreading this since shortly after I arrived there 6 months ago. I knew this was a very short term thing and that I would have to leave after what would be a blink of an eye. Somehow I did not anticipate how significant a role those 6 months would play in my life or how attached I would become to the people and clergy of that parish. I’m about 98% sure that my supervisor and I are the same Myers-Briggs type. Despite being decades apart in age and having very different backgrounds, we seem to speak the same language. Working with her helped me to really understand, I think for the first time, that I could be a priest and be myself. It’s kind of hard to accept – I’m so conscious of everything I don’t know, of how cranky and selfish I can be, and of how much work I want to get done versus the reality of how much I do get done.

I will soon be back in my home parish. I knew that after being away for the past 6 months I couldn’t just go back and do what I had been doing before. I had a phone conference with my rector to discuss this and he has decided that I will not being doing any ministry at all when I return. Zero. Nothing. No choir, no youth ministry, no reading the lectionary or leading prayers, no being in charge of anything. He has also told the congregation this in no uncertain terms. I protested and whined “but I don’t know how to do nothing!” To which he replied “Exactly! You need to rest! You’ve had a very intense 6 months and very little processing time. You have a lot of work to do to prepare for August. You won’t be here all that long anyway, and by halfway through your first semester you’ll be glad you had some time off.” The only exception is that I will preach there on Pentecost Sunday. And then I have to figure out how to say goodbye, and thank you, to that congregation, the one that raised me and supported me and is so very excited to have their first postulant to the priesthood (me!)

My husband had a meeting last night with youth, parents, the rector, and some of the vestry to begin the work of turning the J2A program that we started over to others. A thriving J2A program was a dream of mine for my parish and its youth. There were times over the last few years, some of them very recently, when I did not believe that this program would survive. I questioned whether I should have suggested it at all, or whether something else would be a better fit for the parish. After last night’s meeting I feel confident that things are going to be just fine, and that regardless of what curriculum might be in place there are people who will be advocates for the kids. And I think getting out of the way is going to give some people a chance to be involved in ministry they never imagined they’d be called to do.

And so everything these days seems to be about holding on, and letting go, and which to do when and by how much. And I’m not sure I’m all that good at figuring it all out.

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~ by Sophia on April 3, 2006.

8 Responses to “Holding on and letting go”

  1. I think your rector is very smart; you’re not coming back as the same person, and you don’t want to get sucked into things. This period’s going to go by really, really quickly.

  2. You DO need time to process the experience. You also need time to get yourself, and Computer Guy, and yourself together. we’re doing the house preparation thing right now (I spent an hour cleaning up the garden this morning) and it’s remarkable how many ditzy little things there are to do and how much longer they take than you think they will. We’re starting to interview realtors this week. Now THAT’s a sacary experience. They all have Prada handbags and perfect hair. I have neither. I hope it doesn’t impact how much we can get for the house…hang in there!Meanwhile, I’m working on staying calm while waiting for the Bishop’s letter. Bah. Patience has never been my strong suit.

  3. HiI too have been told to ‘do nothing’ in local church for a year. Starting tonight. I don’t know how to do nothing. It’s a shock and I hate letting go.God help me and help you too Sophia. Holding on and letting go. What a conundrum.

  4. Golly, Sophia. I have no idea how to do nothing in a church. It sounds like a really good idea but very, very hard. You (and Lorna) will be in my prayers!

  5. I know my rector is right, but it will definitely be a new experience. When I was in 6th or 7th grade, already having spent a number of years serving as an acolyte, singing in children’s choirs, participating in the Christmas pageant, and helping at church dinners and flea markets, I started using the term “pew potato” to refer to those who just sit there week after week. Now I am going to try that out!Lorna, I can’t imagine doing that for a year. Prayers are with you! A deacon I know that’s on sabbatical right now says she never imagined how much she’d learn by just observing during that time. May your time off give you new insights about congregational life.This is just for May – Aug while I get ready to leave. Once I’m at seminary I’ll be on the rota for various things in the seminary chapel and I can apply to be a sacristan, etc. Mibi, best of luck finding a good realtor. I hate the entire home buying/selling experience. We’re fortunate in that our realtor has been a family friend for years. Selling the house is so nerve-wracking. We bought our home when we were getting ready to get married, and it is emotional to sell our first house together.

  6. 1. Nice to have you back.2. Breathe3. Your rector is very smart.Here’s a thought — don’t sit in the pew and do nothing. The deacon is right, observe. Sit in the pew and do something … watch. Observe the liturgy, question why they do what they do. Look at the space, how does that impact the liturgy and movement? Where are the cliques? What happens if Bob sits in Debbie’s pew? How are visitors welcomed and introduced? If you were in charge, what would you do differently? Take notes. See if you can accurately draw the space when you get home.Just because you are sitting in the pew doesn’t mean you aren’t “actively” participating. Liturgy is the work of the people, and it takes everybody to make it work. Pew potato you aren’t.

  7. Rev Ref,I really appreciate your advice here. This is a GREAT idea and makes me feel so much better about everything. Despite my sadness about my internship ending, I am looking forward to trying what you suggested.Thank you.

  8. My husband and I call your “pew potatoes”, “ITPs” (In The Pews) goes along with C&E christians (Christmas and Easter Christians). Your Rector is very smart! It would be more traumatic for you and the congregation to have you get terribly involved again. They would have to relearn how to depend on each other again instead of you when you leave. It is more practical, on top of the time and observational already mentioned benefits.A good number of all congregants are ITPs. It is good to get some percepective on them. Good luck.

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