Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Behold! I'm Doing a New Thing...

In 2007, I was appointed to serve Saint Mark United Methodist Church, and found myself in an environment where I felt the surprising and relentless tug of the creative spirit. 
I found that I loved writing: Facebook posts, sermons, newsletter articles. I couldn’t get enough. But, I needed a safe place to write about my children (rather than blathering on about them from the pulpit), as well as a way to keep a record of the professional things I wrote.
When I created my blog in 2008, I named it Reverend Mama. These were and are the two aspects of my identity that I am most overwhelmed by and grateful for. They are the aspects of who I am that I wrestle with the most, and try my hardest to succeed at doing well. Being a pastor and mother are expressions of my being which I came to concurrently, and both totally rocked my world. They define me, shape me, and each dimension makes me better at the other. The dualism of my identity makes me fully aware of my humanness and more open to the divine in all things. My vocation, most certainly, is to both, without confusion or change. Reverend Mama is my hypostatic union.
For the first few years, I was a prolific writer. I found an outlet for the things that had been rolling around in my head, and thanks to the gift of trustworthy childcare, I had time to get the words out into the world. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, and before long, I had a book mapped out about the stages of a mother’s development, psychologically and spiritually. I talked with friends, I organized the chapters and then…
All of my creative energy was re-routed into the marvelous and overwhelming work of gestating a new person. The book idea vanished. The outlines I’d written might as well have been uncoded hieroglyphics. I tried blogging; but nothing came. All of my written work was channeled into the ordination process, which I was fiercely trying to complete that same year. For months, I felt guilty, as I sat and tried to generate new blog material to no avail. I apologized to my readers for the lack of inspiration.
(In retrospect, I suppose it’s unfair to say I stopped writing. I wrote 100 pages of theological, homiletical and historical work for the Board of Ordained Ministry, but it certainly wasn’t material that would have been enjoyable for the general public to read. So, now that I think about it, apology retracted! In fact, dear readers, you’re very welcome.)
Then, the creative work of making a baby got sucked into the exhausting work of mothering a new baby (and her two brothers). Writing was something I was only able to do in short, sweet bursts, typically during the weeks in which I was preaching. I went from averaging 65 posts a year to 4. My brain wasn’t forming complete thoughts, so no one was really missing out.
In the past 6 years since Sloan was born, lots of things have changed in my life. I became aware that God was calling me to be a senior pastor, and we moved to California. I left my beloved Atlanta behind, and did my best to embrace a new life in Laguna Beach. More things changed, and I’m now in the position of solo pastoring and single mothering. It’s not as if I lack for good content. But somehow, I couldn’t generate the courage or the proper words to contain these experiences. I also had to collect all of my words and save the good stuff for the 48 sermons a year I now preach. (Somehow, I convinced myself that my language was finite and I coudln’t possibly write a blog and a sermon.)
Then, one day, right before Christmas, I had a sudden burst of inspiration. I wrote about the past year, in tender and careful language. I started trying to organize my thoughts and feelings, and I slowly started to crawl out from the cave of silence in which I’d entombed myself.
I’m starting to see the path ahead of me.
The path is not going to look as I imagined. But, hardly anything ever does.
I am open to the idea that it might even look better.
So, today, I’m starting a new blog. With a new name. A new domain. A new direction. I need a place where I can be truthful, doting and prophetic. I need a place to write with honesty about what has happened and what’s to come.
For those of you who read and followed and commented and encouraged throughout the years, thank you. (I’m looking at you, Cheryl.) I have been uplifted by your support, and your sweet reminders that writing is never about the author. Good writing, just like good preaching, names the truth of experience, and in the very act of reading, we all find ourselves a little less alone.
So, here’s to this new thing, in this new place.

Prayers for all of us as we wait and see what is to come…