I am going to blame the Holidays on my recent like of blogging, but truth be told Busyness and Tiredness and The Full Moon should also somehow share a bit of the blame. I will say this is my first morning in weeks of actually being able to pry my tired carcass out of bed when the alarm has gone off. So I am up like a quiet little church mouse in my sleepy house, trying to figure out what I do when I have two hours to myself in the morning and there is no laundry or dishes to catch up on (thanks to my hubby!)…. oh, that’s right! I blog!
Last Saturday we headed to Wauseon to visit David’s parents. It was Paul’s birthday so the trip was a mixture of Hey It’s Your Birthday! and Sorry We Didn’t See You on Thanksgiving and Go Bucks! Beat Michigan! David’s youngest brother, Tim, spent the night Friday so he could ride with us. He and David stayed up for awhile having man talk and I put Cohen to bed and took myself to bed too (told you I am blaming Tiredness 🙂 ) We got up early and after a short coffee visit with my friend Miss Kate, we loaded up the car and got on the road. Somewhere between Bellefontaine and Findlay, Cohen’s story-telling (which is HYSTERICAL- video coming) died down to mumbling and then his little head hung and his eyes closed and the mini-man snoring began. David and Tim were in the front seats, solving all the worlds issues via business planning and I dug out a book from my canvas messenger bag.
I am a sucker for memoirs, right? I love a well told story, but how much better if it is a true story? Remember, I am the one who said I wish instead of commentaries, the Church had a collection of stories of how people struggled and overcame… people and the twists and turns of their lives intrigue me. So I’ve had this memoir sitting on my shelf for awhile now. With the title “Leaving Church” I was expecting to read about a disenchanted someone who walked away from faith. I have always been curious about what causes a person to come to church or leave it… you know- what goes into that decision for a lot of folks? So imagine my surprise when the first chapter let me know that the book was really going to the memories and stories and thoughts of a female priest in the Episcopalian church. I am nearly done now, some four days later, and I am still not sure how she’s “leaving church” but none the less, I am enjoying the ride.
About a year after I first started this blog in 2005, I got an email from a girl whose parents/youth leader didn’t want her to read my blog anymore because they felt I recommended books that were too far out on the fringes of Christianity. At the time, they used a certain term to describe what “fringes” specifically they meant, but rather than get into that now, let’s just say we don’t all agree on what are the outlying areas. I said it then and I still believe now that it is important to read lots of things- not only the things you already know you agree with. By reading something that challenges your own perceptions or ideas, you benefit by being stretched, being made to think, being brought to a place to ask God to help you understand, and maybe occasionally finding out you weren’t as right as you thought. Christians don’t have to be so threatened by unfamiliarity- the Truth is easily found by a pure-hearted Seeker.
So, now I am stepping off my soapbox and saying that while I don’t agree with all of the writer’s perceptions, the book is a worthwhile read… provocative, compassionate and beautifully crafted.
David always has a black pen stuck in his shirt somewhere- it is a certain kind of pen, the ink writes smoothly and smears easily if you don’t give it a minute to dry. He’d know the exact name; of course I don’t. I leaned up from the backseat, “Babe, can you hand me your pen?” He fished around inside his sweatshirt for a minute, producing the very professional looking pen. His eyebrows raised in the rearview mirror, but I could see the smile gaining momentum across his face from where I sat. “Quit it,” I teased, knowing he was going to tease me about not running off with his pen. [to date, I have misplaced or taken possession of at least 4 of his special pens 🙂 ]
With four smooth, deeply saturated black lines I made a box around a paragraph early on in the book. For good measure, I made each point of the box a star. I wasn’t sure how much more I would be highlighting and I didn’t want to forget to revisit the passage.
The writer had been in ministry for some time, but had not yet become a full fledged priest in the church. Having served as a deacon and filled other roles, she had not been assigned any telling attire such that she could serve in the church and then go about the rest of her week without officially been recognized as “clergy”. So, when she did get ordained as a priest some years later, the thought of wearing the infamous collar and even the sight of it, was unnerving to her.
“…When I was a little girl riding in the backseat of my family station wagon to visit my relatives in south Georgia, I remember looking out the window to see men in black-and-white pajamas working in the fields. “Why are those men dressed like that?” I asked my mother. Turning around in her seat, she explained that they were state prisoners, who were dressed like that because the uniform made them easier to see. If they tried to escape, she said, then the guards could find them quicker, and if they showed up at a farmhouse looking for good, then the people who lived there would know to call the police. “See how they stand out?”
…Looking in the bathroom mirror twenty-five years later, I could see how I was going to stand out too. For good or ill, I two would have a hard time escaping. As my beloved priest had told me in seminary, being ordained is not about serving God perfectly but about serving God visibly, allowing other people to learn whatever they can from watching you rise and fall. “You probably won’t be much worse than other people,” he said, “and you certainly won’t be any better, but you will have to let people look at you. You will have to let them see you as you are.”
Although certainly all leaders should be a good example of how to follow Jesus, I like the thought that there is something sacred about visibly following Jesus even when it is not perfect. In a much smaller way, I guess that is what I hope for this tiny space in the world wide web where I record recipes, mommy stories, fears, and victories. I hope that when you take a “look” into my very good, but often ho-hum life you “see” me as I am… my strengths and my failings alike. I hope you “see” what it looks like for me to follow Jesus, imperfectly but honestly. And I hope that for you too- that in the space of your life, you are a visible, living picture of what is means to be a little Christ.
Well Cohen is up and wanting breakfast, but before I sign off, I wanted to remind you THE GREAT ORNAMENT EXCHANGE closes DECEMBER 3rd!
Picture post from Thanksgiving coming- how was your Thanksgiving?!?!