May 2008

Can't We Talk It Over (Just NOT in Bed)?

A few weeks ago, an email went out at Yale Divinity School, inviting students to a meeting about “Ministry in a Sexualized Workplace.” We were to talk about sexual harassment, safety, and other related issues. A student specifically asked one of the assistant deans to hold it, and he responded. So we gathered in an empty classroom with our lunches and our backpacks, greeted the two local clergy women that he invited in as resources, and waited. He opened with a question.

You know that awkward moment when nobody speaks up?

That didn’t happen.

Just about everybody had something to say.

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May 2008

Spring in Bloom: Photos

Today Fidelia's Sisters celebrates spring with some flower photography by Katherine Willis Pershey. Katherine writes:

I am a beginning photographer; after inheriting a good camera from my sister a few years ago, I now have, in my infant daughter, a pressing inspiration to learn how to use it. In addition to taking hundreds of photos of Juliette, I'm practicing learning the alchemy of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO at the  South Coast Botanic Gardens. Having grown up in the Midwest, the cactus gardens and butterfly amaryllis of Southern California have yet to lose their exotic, unfamiliar beauty.

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May 2008

Buy, Buy, Baby, Buy, Buy

Moms in Ministry invites your articles about being a minister and a parent. Submissions can be sent to moms(dot)ycw(at)gmail(dot)com.

I am not yet a mother, but my neighbors are. Through immersion in their worlds, I have come to learn of the vital importance of the binkie, the swing, the vibrating chair, the Miracle Blanket, Blabla knit dolls, and of course the Boppy.  I already loved the decorating and lifestyle website www.apartmenttherapy.com, but because of all the babies surrounding me, I found myself trolling on their nursery pages, www.ohdeedoh.com, more and more.

I did not realize how far my immersion had gone, though, until one day we were on a walk and ran into another neighbor with a baby in a stroller.  This stroller was gorgeous:  red and black, lean and swift.  The stroller also looked familiar to me.  I found myself asking this neighbor, “Is that a Phil and Ted stroller ?!?”  It was.  My trolling on www.ohdeedoh.com had led to met to Phil and Ted’s website, where I had schooled myself on the wide variety of strollers and other infant products they sell.  My friends, if I, newly married and childless, can be so affected by infant marketing that I can identify the new hip stroller on sight, how is such marketing affecting us as a country?

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May 2008

Confirmation Cliff-Jumping

Again this year, I am writing a liturgy for confirmation with confusion, questioning, and consternation. I love the kids who are being confirmed. I love the community and camaraderie they have developed in a year of meeting, retreating, questioning, wondering, discovering, and constructing. I love how they articulate their faith…not always complete, not always theologically “correct”, but genuinely, from a deep place in their hearts, a place where God lives and the Spirit moves.

And yet when I gather with other young clergy, the confirmation issue always seems to come up. It’s always been “done,” say our congregations, our head pastors, and our older colleagues. Most of us seem to feel like the way it’s done doesn’t really fit anymore. We don’t know what to do with it.

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May 2008

Like Mother...

Dear Mom,

Happy Mother's Day! Last night, while Simon and I wandered through our local mall, I wondered what I would give you as a token of my thanks this year. On and off I have debated making you a pair of the fingerless gloves you asked for at Christmas, but I just couldn't convince myself that fingerless gloves were a good gift idea in May. (For the record, I have the yarn, a perfect non-scratchy cotton and wool blend in a beautiful blue. The gloves are on their way, just not on this occasion.)

Each year on Mother's Day, I do my best to thank you. Usually the thanksgiving is for all of the extraordinarily ordinary things you have done for your children. Considering that we are all, as Dad puts it, "successfully launched" as young adults with careers, homes, and bank accounts that are mostly independent of you, I think that you and he both have a right to be proud. Guiding three children in their journey through adolescence into young adulthood is no small feat. This year, though, I have a different thanksgiving to share.

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May 2008

Living and Loving in Limbo

by Phoebe Jones

Seminary did a very good job at teaching me that it would be really hard—nay, impossible—to date anybody as a young clergywoman.  “Don't even get your hopes up,” should have been printed on my diploma.  I, like many others, saw the flood of seminary classmates rushing down the aisle before heading off on internship or to their first church.  It was not difficult to conclude that my chances of finding a rewarding relationship would plummet with the laying on of hands at ordination.

Now, fortunately I wasn't very good at the dating thing and didn't mind living alone, so it didn't seem like a huge deal.  I'd just experienced the ending of a relationship gone sour, so was feeling particularly inept at that kind of partnership.  I also happen not to be a person who has always craved children or a husband.  So, it was kind of a bum deal, but I had accepted and come to terms with the likelihood that I would be a lifelong singleton.

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May 2008

You Are With Me

She laughs--the wide mouthed, toothless grin of a first smile.  Her nostrils flare.  A pink, elastic, bow encircles her bald head.  Her thumb aims towards her mouth, finding her hands still a new trick.  The day she died, they held a birthday party for the first birthday she’d never have.  I ran about trying to find a small cake, candles, and the birthday poster her mother requested. 

Another picture, wispy blond hair brushes a smooth forehead, glitter bedecked lips part, she is looking up towards someone, mom perhaps, a favorite toy.  The top of her princess dress frames her neck, and I know it spins around her legs in a dizzy dance.  She was buried with a tiara.  I’m in the next picture; a small boy and I grin at the camera.  He is dressed in camouflage pajamas.  His eyes are bright.  A tube is taped across his cheek and goes down his nose, into his belly.  It feeds him on days when he can’t bring himself to eat.  He was transferred to another hospital…last I heard he was still alive. 

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May 2008

Where the Wild Things Are

SmwildthingsI could fall in love with a politician. I did. It happened. As forbidden and secret as it may be, it is the secret that I keep tucked in by my political hope at night. But they don’t make a t-shirt that celebrates the love of retired clergy. If they did, I wouldn’t wear it because this man is my nightmare.

I don’t really remember how it started. I don’t think I was sent to bed without dinner. I can’t imagine that this sort of nightmare emerged from the recesses of my brain. Perhaps this is the kind of mischief that arrives in your third month in ministry. This may be the testing that one must endure in the wilderness of the third month of a call. Or this could just be the unfulfilled grief of a miserable old man.

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May 2008

Congregational Interviewing 101 (Or What You Should Know About Parish Interviewing but No One Tells You… Or What I Wish I had Known a Few Years Ago)

Ah, the call process. What an idyllic, prayerful time, characterized by careful consideration of congregations and clergy alike, with everyone putting aside worldly concerns to discern the will of the Triune God. Sound familiar?

No? What's that? You experienced stress, anxiety, or confusion while looking for a position as an ordained minister? Blasphemy, blasphemy! Well, maybe so, but, given a choice, I’d rather be a blasphemer than a prevaricator.

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