It just happened again. I put down a copy of my seminary alumni magazine, after reading yet another article about how clergywomen can “have it all”. In the nearly seven years since my ordination and ten years since I began my seminary career, the drumbeats insisting that clergywomen can be both full-time pastors and full-time mothers have grown steadily louder and more resolute. Not only can we do this, the voices chorus, but we should do this. Evidently we owe it to the church to model the ways in which the best congregation can live out the ideals of the Christian family. This means ministry and mothering overlapping in as many ways and settings as one can imagine. It is now de rigueur for women pastors to describe their intertwined work and family life after the arrival of a child by boasting along the lines of, “I brought her to work and breastfed while wearing vestments.”
This month we are pleased to offer visual art and poetry together from two different artists, Mary Allison Cates (who created a series we featured in Advent) and Heidi Koschzec. Both works appear below the fold.
Do you sculpt? sew? shoot photos? string words together? We want to hear from you.
My seminary boyfriend broke up with me just a few days before I was supposed to go house-hunting. It was my senior year, and I had just accepted an exciting new call as an assistant rector. A girlfriend of mine named Mary peeled me off the floor of my dorm room and insisted on driving me to look for houses in this town in which I had never visited, much less lived. Moving away from all that I knew felt terrifying. Mary metaphorically held my hand while we visited apartment after apartment, until I found "the one." The townhouse was brand new, painted a cheerful cream, in a somewhat Pleasantville-like neighborhood. Mine was a sweet two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath, with a rent in the outer limits of what I could afford.
Our congregation has used Taizé, Tenebrae, and narratives of the Passion in past Good Friday services. I grew up in a congregation that often used the 7 last words of Christ as a focal point. I wrote this liturgy to combine some of these elements, but also wanting to add some concrete way for people to respond. I came up with the idea of using stones: stones as worry stones; stones as weights; stones as symbols of altars built where people have an encounter with God; and stones as used in modern Judaism to leave at a grave site as a way to honor the memory of the deceased.
An Imaginary dialogue between a college student and her chaplain.
Student: Chaplain Kate, I have to interview someone for my First Year Seminar class. Would you mind if I asked you a few questions?
Chaplain: That sounds
fine to me. What are you researching?
S: Well, we were supposed to interview a professional woman about her job. I was kinda curious about why you are a chaplain so I thought I’d ask you, if that’s okay, that is…um, well, and if you have time…
C: That sounds good to me. I’ve got some spare time now. Ask away.
S: So why are you a chaplain?
After a long pause in our conversation,
I suppose that he felt the need to ask another question. I was
inclined toward hanging up. The conversation had been annoying
thus far. I didn’t see the potential for improvement.
“So, what’s your favorite movie?”
It is probably best that this was
a phone conversation so he couldn’t see my eyes roll with the exasperated
gesture that accompanied it. He asked this exact question three
times – in our three previous phone conversations. The fates hadn’t
aligned as his first email contact arrived in my Match.com inbox days
before Christmas. Though he was heading out of town to see family,
my schedule was more of a nightmare. Our casual emails drifted as New
Year’s arrived. We had graduated to the phone by then. It was clumsy.
And yet, our conversations had always had this tone of silence.
Recently, at a local governing board meeting, the chair of a search committee presented his candidate before the governing body with the words, “We really did have a real search.” I sat back in my pew, folded my arms, and rolled my eyes, because we all knew the truth. It was just another sham.
Have you ever fallen prey to the fraudulent pastoral search? Do you know what I’m talking about? Between my husband and me, we’ve been caught up in it. I hate to say just how many times.
I’m in love!
Oh, don’t get too excited. I’m not in love with anyone I’ve actually met. . .or am likely to meet. This love is a secret love, which is something juicy for me to savor. I’m not telling many people and definitely not telling members of my congregation. They are very kind to me, but I think they would find this love of mine polarizing.
Yes, that’s right, I’m in love with a politician. A candidate, actually. A candidate for President. And I can’t tell ANYONE! I want to shout my love from the rooftops, proclaim it in the pulpit, but I also don’t want the IRS breathing down my neck. I feel very strange being in this position. I used to love politics. As a kid, I made my own campaign buttons out of card stock and contact paper. But the last few years, politics has been so stressful, so filled with vitriol and betrayal and power grabbing that I just haven’t been able to bear participating.