Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spirit, Enter Here

It's hard to know how to try to describe this past week.

I continue to have many, many conversations with members and friends of the congregation, mostly un-bloggable. Interestingly, only one of the many sticks out as uncomfortable and unsettling, and that one had nothing to do with my recently disclosed sexuality. Without going into detail, let me just say... it was another of those experiences in which someone unloads a lot of what turns out to be Their Stuff. I'm getting pretty good at recognizing that, certainly when the topic of conversation is: "Are gay pastors ok?" or something along those lines. I can engage in those conversations with a great deal of peace and focus, and walk away fine. Exhausted, perhaps, but otherwise... fine. Still centered, still at peace.

But this one conversation... in the middle of it I started to feel that I might be breaking out in hives. I had fantasy after fantasy of escape. When I got home (5:30 or so) I took Benadryl, because my back was, in fact, covered with red welts. I passed out for two hours. Then I awoke, unable to work or concentrate (because I was obsessively going over the hive-inducing conversation in my mind, re-living, in particular, the toss of a head saying "No, I will not help you."). I tossed and turned until after 4 AM. My alarm goes off at 5:55.

That was Wednesday into Thursday. Thursday I had a meeting to host at my church, followed by a couple more meetings with congregation members. I was able to leave the office by 4:30 and grab an hour nap prior to an evening rehearsal. (Petra and I are in a show!).

Unmentioned until now: Friday evening I had a speaking engagement. The first of its kind for me... not church, but a community group with which I have some connection. I was asked about 8 weeks ago to speak at a dinner. I had a vague sense of what I was to speak about. (About 20 minutes, har har har). As of Friday at 5:55 AM I had written approximately 1/3 of my talk. And not a single line of Sunday's sermon.

This is something about which I don't think I've blogged, either here or at the other place. I have a tendency to procrastinate. In terms of sermon writing, I'm aware that I'm in very good company, as someone who sometimes/ oftimes doesn't begin writing (or at least hasn't written a whole lot) by Saturday. And I always have a kind of trust available, that I will be able to come up with something preachable. But this speaking engagement was something else again. It was a type of speech of which I''ve had zilch experience. And to go into Friday morning with it unwritten was kind of horrifying.

Ultimately I was able to crank out something with which I was not unhappy. I'm grateful to say. it was well-received. And on Saturday at 2 PM I started writing a sermon that turned out to be something that felt pretty good.

I have a friend who gives the Holy Spirit credit for pulling her out of all sorts of last minute jams. That always seemed a little questionable to me. For one thing, why save my bacon in terms of, say, professional reputation when, gosh, let's see, war, pestilence, famine, the fury of nature... there are so many billions more pressing projects that must beckon the Almighty... catch my drift? That just doesn't comport with my understanding of God.

And yet, understanding isn't everything. If I'm living one truth now, it's that God's goodness and care in my life cannot be overstated and do indeed seem to account for a whole lot of grace that is flowing, with abundance. As I have said before: grace upon grace.

A woman who gave an inspirational talk at my church not too long ago shared a very simple prayer she says when she is anxious or fearful: "Spirit, enter here." I find myself praying that a lot lately. Thursday morning about 3:45 AM, for instance. And Friday, as the speaker before me folded up his papers and left the podium, and Saturday at 2 PM as I typed the heading for my sermon. And this morning as I drove to church to deliver said sermon. And now. Spirit, enter here.

This week the committe responsible for church/ pastor relationships in my local denominational governing body meets, and will hear (formally) of my coming out to my congregation. In my denomination, the local governing body needs to approve the relationship between pastor and congregation. I don't expect an answer immediately. I certainly hope they will take their time in studying the matter. A deep breath. Spirit, enter here.


Sara said...

Prayers continue.

LittleMary said...

well god bless you. i hear you about the holy spirit quandry. and yet, she does seem to pull through time and again!

Songbird said...

Amen to that.

Jan said...

Prayers and love.

Jane R said...

Prayers and friendship.

Mary Beth said...

Thank you for these words: Spirit, enter here.