My beloved and I have an ongoing disagreement of sorts. She (who shall henceforth be known as "Beloved," owing to her strenuous objection to "Felicity" as her nom de blogue ... I explained the august Christian pedigree of the name, but she was unmoved...) does not understand the blogging phenomenon. Her general outlook upon blogging is, Don't these people have jobs? relationships? lives?
Beloved is a business-woman, and her business is creative in nature. She reads widely and well-- unlike me, she has read every bit of the latest New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly, and her bedside table includes authors Michael Pollen, Jeanette Winterson, Vita Sackville-West, and Radclyffe Hall (we are lesbians, after all). She reads trade publications, the local press and the New York Times. She works a 50-60 hour week, without fail, without hesitation, supervising her small and loyal staff. She is a community leader, founder of a local business association and instigator of projects in that broad category known as "beautification." I say she should run for mayor. She would win.
My wonderful Beloved is puzzled and, truth be told, somewhat annoyed, at the whole blogging project, mine as well as everyone else's. I have explained to her the specific nature of my blog, its content and broad outlines. She says, I could understand talking to a therapist about these things. I could understand finding of group of people to talk with. I could even understand writing a memoir. But this? Putting your life out there, for all the world to read and interact with? For one thing, she says, it seems dangerous. And I confess, in writing the paragraph I just did, outlining her reading habits and accomplishments, I felt some anxiety: will she be recognized? And therefore, will I be found out?
Why blog? It is about community. (Beloved: then why not find a real community? Partial answers to that question in a minute.) In speaking here, in this semi-protected space, I hope to accomplish these few things. First, I hope to relieve myself of some anxiety by the act of purging. I want to make no pretenses about this: some of this is about my own need, pure and simple. Second, I want to find (and I already have found) a community of care. Appropriate boundaries notwithstanding, I have known pastors to find small communities of care in their congregations, so that when a parent dies, or a child gets in trouble, or there is a scary diagnosis, loving persons rally round. Their care may express itself in casseroles or in cards or even in a hug after church, but it is there and it is powerful. I have experienced such communal caregiving at certain crises in my life-- my divorce, for example. But my struggle with my closeted identity is something which, of necessity, is invisible. So the community has to be found elsewhere. I have found/ am finding it here.
Finally, for those who are wondering, I hope to be able to put, if not a face, then at least a voice on this phenomenon. There are so many of us... I can count, without thinking too hard about it. a dozen closeted pastors known to me personally. (Because of geography and also for safety reasons, we cannot convene around our closetedness.) I hope to say, here, This is what it's like. Here is how it feels. This is how it's done. I also hope to ask this: Are we sure, people of God, that this is how we want our clergy to live? Given that we're already in your pulpits and at your hospital bedsides and baptizing your babies and witnessing your marriages, does it make sense for us to need to hide the beautiful sacramental reality of our lives from you?