As of October 1, Fidelia's Sisters is one year old! That's more than one hundred pieces published by, for, and about young clergy women. For our one year anniversary, we've chosen several ways to celebrate:
For the last few weeks, I've been taking Fridays off from taking Fridays off.
By that, I mean that the boys have been staying home with me. There were a lot of reasons behind this, but it mainly stemmed from the fact that I missed them, my time with them, our days together, our camaraderie.
When I first started working at Saint Mark, I had spent the previous 5 months home with both boys on an... unanticipated sabbatical, let's say. It was wonderful, most days, but because of all of the anticipation, worry, anxiety, and uncertainty about the future and what the Board of Ordained Ministry might decide for me, that time was not always pleasant. I was sometimes resentful of folks who got to get up, go to their jobs and live out their vocations.
This month we feature two pieces on baptism from two of our young clergy women. They convey very different, yet equally striking, aspects of the sacrament, as you will see.
We young clergy women are a multi-talented bunch. (Do you sculpt? sew? shoot photos? string words together? We want to hear from you.
Creating space to breathe deeply, filling ourselves with that feeling of calm. At this year’s Young Women Preachers Conference Embodying the Sermon, we spent time gathered in the library at Cathedral College doing just that. But for me, the space to breathe deeply opened when that heavy front door swung open for our arrival.
Just one year earlier, I had arrived at those doors with a carpool of strangers, excited but anxious and just a touch homesick. How would I fit in and make friends when I was so worried about preaching to strangers, about being in a strange new job, and about being away from home for a week?
This article must start with a disclaimer: I love my own church. I love to worship at my own church. We do worship well: good hymns, a great organist, a wonderful choir, kids participating, fervent prayer, gorgeous banners, liturgy with a good mix of pattern and flexibility. But, here’s the thing: if I didn’t do what I do and I were church shopping, I’m not sure I’d worship at my church.
Church shopping is a completely foreign concept to me: I’m a pastor’s kid and a pastor. Except for a few brief years in college (when, truth be told, I mostly skipped church), I never picked my own church. In seminary, my husband and I attended the first church we visited—we were hooked after one Sunday. Or, maybe we weren’t hooked, but we just didn’t have the energy to look any further.
Since then, I’ve been attached to whichever congregation I serve. I’ve had varying degrees of influence over worship in these places: from the place where I wrote the entire liturgy every week to the massive downtown congregation where I might, once in a blue moon, get to compose a prayer.
Not too long ago, I was describing part of my thesis project to a colleague after a conversation about the search and call process. “It’s a prayer shawl,” I told him, “with the names and images of the women I consider to be my saints, the cloud of witnesses that surround me.”
“Whoa,” he replied. “You’re going to have to tone down that crazy feminist stuff when you meet with search committees.”
Now, truth be told, I don’t consider myself a “crazy” feminist. I am a feminist, yes, in that I feel that men and women are equal and deserve to be treated as such. Perhaps I am a strong feminist, in that I believe that men are not the “default” humans, with women being an afterthought. I believe influential women should be celebrated in the same way influential men have been for millennia. I also believe that women have the same access to God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit that men do, and the same ability to share that with a parish community. If that makes me a “crazy feminist,” then I will proudly claim that title.
So, in honor of that, here are my top ten reasons I won’t tone down my “crazy feminism:”
Falling for someone who comes to your church is a tricky situation. How do you make sure you aren’t making the other person uncomfortable? How do you make sure you aren’t denying yourself the chance at love just because you happen to be in the power position? How do you keep from being so blatantly obvious in your crush that everyone around you comments?
A year ago I was dealing with all of these questions and more. A handsome, compassionate, and intriguing man started sporadically attending the church I serve and immediately, I took notice. Now, cute fellows have come into our sanctuary doors before but nothing sparked. This guy was different. The first Sunday he attended, he was adorable in his awkward flirting with me at the door and I couldn’t help but feel that pull.
After several months of friendly invitations to do things with the other young adults (he was new to town, after all!) and his more overt signals that he was interested in me (dropping by my house with a “church question,” baking me bread, etc.), we finally established that yes, we did in fact want to try dating. I believe the exact exchange after our last “friend” outing went like this: Him: “Is this a date?” Me: “It can be if you don’t join my church.” Him: (laughing) “Oh, I won’t join your church.”
Part II in a series -- read the first part of Michelle's story "Epiphany" in the August 2008 The Ones We Love column.
The doctor pushed the curtain aside and left to document the conversation in the file, leaving Shon and I to absorb the jagged pill he had just forced us to swallow. “There’s something on the left side of your brain.” How were we supposed to respond to that? No questions came to mind. There were no particular concerns I could voice. I really did not even have any feelings at all, save utter shock. In that moment of revelation I could only stare at my husband and try to imagine the big dark mass lurking underneath his thick brown hair and perfectly smooth scalp. It had to be a joke.
She knew it was over. She knew it was over. Right then as she followed the Head Deacon out of the narthex toward her office, Lexi knew that this was the end. Her heels clicked across the floor with an unexpected certainty. It was then she knew that her days in Corinth were over. She had served this small congregation faithfully. They had tried to make it work. She had tried to be the pastor they so desperately wanted but she couldn’t be that person – not for them or herself. Lexi didn’t know what awaited her once her office door was closed. She couldn’t think of anything that she had done wrong – but already knew that whatever she had done had not been right.