Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Beloved asks, Why Blog?

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?


sharecropper said...

C, your blogs provide others with support and caring as well. I personally know three closeted pastors in the Episcopal Church, and I grieve for their personal lives, lived so much as a persona and not as a person. Keep up your wonderful stories, and tell us some about your Mom. Thanks for the "traveling mercies"; I'm in the airport waiting to get on the place. Good wishes for the week.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Blogging ultimately saved my sanity, when I was spiraling into the whirlpool of depression.

It let me write out my most heartfelt pain, anguish, and confusion in a venue where it wouldn't "hurt" anyone.

Anonymous said...

There is indeed community. And it's a spiritual discipline for me. But I have to be careful for different reasons -- can't rant like an anonymous blogger. But I find I can definitely say things on my blog that I can't say/don't have the opportunity to say in face-to-face encounters with church.

more cows than people said...

I didn't get blogging until I started doing it. I would read a blog now and then and think "Don't these people have lives? How could they possibly have time for this?" And now I can't imagine my life without it. So I get your beloved's reaction (and I think the shift away from Felicity is wise), but I hope she can gracefully let you inhabit this space which is such a blessing to you and to many.

KJ said...

Checking in after a tip from MadPriest. Peace of Christ and prayers for you, your beloved and children.

Ever get the feeling you're on an adventure not of your own making?

Ann said...

Bloghopped over here from Mad Priest - thanks for blogging. It is addictive - now I have 2 and contribute on several others. LOL

Caminante said...

Is bloggin akin to the airplane conversation where one can lay bare one's soul to the person next to them but doesn't have to worry about finding them on the street the next day? Whatever, I hold you in my prayers.

Catherine said...

As a healthcare chaplain, I know have to allow everyone to tell their story, because we all have one TO tell. Telling the story of who we are and aren't defines us to others so they can know us and be gifted with our journey and hopefully learn a bit more about life from another perspective or experience. Writing our story or blogging is half the process; others have to learn to listen to our story with patience and kindness; this is not something that can be rushed or the "good parts" gotten to sooner because the story IS all the good parts. I think it is far harder for others to listen and "hear" what is being said than it is for us to tell the story. Just as Beloved needs her creative and doing self, so does C most equally.

I began blogging for much the same reason as WD: depression, as well as trying to find myself after some devastating losses--personal, financial as well as health reasons. I have always loved writing and its beauty and power. Maybe I needed power when there was none anywhere else. So I blog and it brings me joy and is an outlet for views I would probably not express otherwise.

I love my Church and my parish; and they like to read my blog though they don't always agree with what I say, they like that I feel free to express myself and it makes them think in ways they didn't before.

It's your blog, C. Do what you want to do, girl! Beloved will love you anyway.

Cecilia said...

In a phone conversation yesterday with a dear friend I talked about this post and this issue, and she said, very sensibly, You're an extrovert, right? Oh yes, my oh my yes. Then, she went on, it is very likely that you have pretty high relationship/connecting needs that have suffered since seminary, am I right? Well, now that she mentions it...

It's fascinating to me how many areas in my life there are about which I feel the need to apologize or to forestall criticism. Thus the theme of this blog: this is who I am. This is who I am!

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and responses; I am so grateful for this community.

Pax, C.