Friday, March 13, 2009

Lent Day 15: Checking In

Though this blog is not registered with RevGalBlogPals, I do lurk there. Today's Mid-Lent check-in was too good to resist.

Sophia (who is herself a gracious presence here) writes:

The pastor of my grad school parish once gave a fascinating reflection, at about this mid-point in the season, called "How to Survive the Mid-Lent Crisis"! As I recall, his main point was that by halfway through the season we have often found it very challenging to live up to our original plans....But, he suggested--on the analogy of the healing and reframing of our life plans that can happen during a mid-*life* crisis--that that can be even more fruitful.

So here's an invitation to check in on the state of your spirit midway through "this joyful season where we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed" (Roman Missal). Hopefully there's a good deal of grace, and not too much crisis, in your mid-Lenten experience!

1. Did you give up, or take on, anything special for Lent this year?

This Lent I did something I often do: vowed to say Daily Prayer (or the Daily Office, depending on your tradition) every morning by rising an hour earlier than usual. This is a challenging discipline for me, especially the early rising part, but I knew I needed it.

2. Have you been able to stay with your original plans, or has life gotten in the way?

Not only has life not gotten in the way, life has made this early prayer hour essential: Within a day of adopting the plan, the idea of coming out to my congregation began to burn in me, an absolutely unquenchable desire.

3. Has God had any surprising blessings for you during this Lent?

The plan to come out: I know it is a blessing, but I also believe it is a great challenge (and no one, I believe, ever promised that blessings would not also be challenges). Yes, this was a surprise. After thinking about coming out a year ago, I had essentially tucked this idea away... found it a closet, I guess you could say. And I had no plans to resurrect it. But... there is coming a time when my congregation will vote to make what has been a temporary pastoral relationship permanent. And as that vote approaches, several things become clear.

First, I can imagine being at my church for many years-- ten or more. In fact, this is what I am hoping for. But I cannot imagine being there all that time closeted. In fact, I can imagine it becoming something that feels very, very oppressive, as I continue to have a vague sense of anxiety every weekend that Beloved and I stay together, or as well hold hands in a movie and I glance around to see whether I recognize anyone from my church community there. The other piece of it is this: being closeted is a temporary measure at best in a small town. Being outed is inevitable. I can imagine a scenario where people begin to learn this about me, and nothing is said... but attendance dwindles, people remove themselves, the trust in me has been hopelessly eroded. This leads me to the second dawning awareness.

I am increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of the congregation voting without knowing this about me. It begins to move out of an area of reasonable privacy (which I think was reasonable for the earlier stages of our lives together), and into the realm of dishonesty. Given the inevitability of being outed sooner or later, it just makes sense that I would take as much control (of an uncontrollable process) as I can.

4. What is on your inner and/or outer agenda for the remainder of Lent and Holy Week?

One unexpected thing that has happened is that my friends are not universally supportive of this decision. Most are... in fact, all but one. My friends who are out have all been incredibly sensitive to my need to be closeted as I have been. I have never felt the slightest pressure from anyone, and that includes Beloved. But as I have shared this idea, this news with them... their response has been joyful and supportive (even as they have said things like, I am afraid for you, for the difficult parts of this).

One friend has not been happy with this decision. This friend is sharing with me thoughts and ideas that are designed to be reality checks-- I truly think there is concern for me-- but which in fact are just full of fear, fear, fear. And which are feeding into some of my worst nightmares about the possibilities that lie ahead of me.

My agenda includes continuing to process all of this, getting my support systems in place and ready to go, and writing both the letter that I will send to the congregation and the sermon I will preach the following Sunday. And praying, praying, praying.

5. Where do you most long to see resurrection, in your life and/or in the world, this Easter?

I wish you could see me smiling. Whatever may come... at the end of it will be freedom. That is resurrection enough for me. I wish it for all.

Bonus: Share a favorite scripture, prayer, poem, artwork, or musical selection that speaks Lenten spring to your heart.

For me, the scripture of this Lent is from 1 John 4:17-19:

17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19We love because he first loved us.

Amen, Amen, Amen.

13 comments:

August said...

applause! loud and raucous applause!

Choralgirl said...

Love you so. :-)

Rachel said...

wow.
Bold, what an amazing journey so far. Your courage astounds me.

Gem said...

Beautiful. Are you taking Sundays off? If so, do you know the reason you take Sundays off? I am sorry if you already explained this on your blog, I just found it now and quickly skimmed through it...

and the picture of the words from your blog on the right hand side; where do you do that?

Sophia said...

Rejoicing with you, dearest Cecilia. You and Godde are so amazing and it is such a blessing to read this sharing.

Also noticing that that scripture brings me to tears--need to spend some time with that. It's been years since I read Hind's Feet on High Places but the heroine's name at the start is Much Afraid....And at the end it has been changed to Grace and Glory. That is what I long for, for all of us.

Cecilia said...

Gem, thanks for commenting here. Welcome! That's a "word cloud," you can get it at http://www.wordle.net/. You simply use a portion of your writing (or your whole blog, for instance, which is what i did with that one... about a year ago or more) and it creates it. Cool!

Pax, C.

Cecilia said...

And yes, Sundays are "in" Lent, but not "of" it. Sunday is always the celebration of the resurrection, so those days are not counted in the count of the days in Lent.

Pax, C.

LittleMary said...

yes, at the end will be freedom!

Songbird said...

Amen!

Jan said...

Cecilia, you are so brave and wise. Honest, too. Prayers as you walk this way to openness, which is risky but also hopeful.

jsd said...

Amen!

I throw this out there for what it's worth. Before leaving TX to come to VT to discern. Two friends on a near weekly basis played devil's advocate; they wanted to dissuade me from leaving my very good life for one of what they envisioned to be poverty and not the best choice for someone with young children. But, much of what they asked I had already thought through and excepted. Some of their questions gave me things to think about, and decide even if that where to happen, my decision to leave was the right one.

This journey has not been easy, some of what they said, I've had to live through and into my answers I gave them then.

I had some initial regrets, and a lot of doubt about what have I done. But, now - I am back in that space that come what may, it will be what it will be, and I will be ok.

Peace to you.

52 Faces said...

Of course I'm already predisposed towards this post (and your Day 25 one) because my name is Sophia :)

Happy Lent!

I'm very happy to have found this blog (google search "day of lent" as I prepared to write my own mid-Lent check-in.)

Cecilia said...

Welcome 52Faces! great to see you around these parts. Come back again!

Pax, C.