‘Tis the season to be present at multiple venues of church and academy, with various "snapshots"…which means asking again and again, Why...?
#1: I sat in a United Methodist sanctuary for a good long spell on Tuesday, a peripheral participant in liturgy toward commissioning and ordinations. It was a blessing to be there, to celebrate the ordinand. Foreign to my own ecclesial proclivities, the Bishop held court, preaching on the importance of preaching before laying hands upon each newly commissioned/ordained. I reveled in his words, disagreeing at moments but also appreciating him deeply. Even I, in my ignorance of UMC politics, winced at his polarized & polarizing pain, unleashed into the room. Then I sat tonight with those feeling unheard, unseen, who called him evil. What is it about our ecclesial collectives that normalize these behaviors as prophetic or faithful when they are also irresponsible projections of refused pains onto others?
#2: A faculty gathered to discern with a candidate for a teaching post at my school. I appreciated the scholarship, the teaching style. I enjoyed the banter with colleagues at the more informal lunch session. I listened to impassioned discourse led by my colleagues, feeling no inclination to lend my voice, nor much interest in the distinctions they were passionately parsing. I honestly had nothing to say in what was most valuable to them. Did my presence contribute anything? Did it need to?
#3: I read an official document of my institution as requested by faculty colleagues toward collaborative governance. A brief paragraph of “Nondiscrimination & Inclusiveness” caught my attention, both for its brevity and for its irony. Vague & non-descript. Inclusive of nothing particular. As a woman, I can say that no one asked me my experience because they already know what I’d say. It’s not a value here to be hospitable to all the othernesses the world has now crafted, in speech or in worship. It no longer angers me, but perhaps some sadness, sometimes. Because strangely, this rigidity and refusal have insured that I’d find my sacred worth outside any church collective. I’ve often said Princeton Seminary made me a feminist. United has required my awakening to the Feminine for soul survival.
All these things attempted as legislation never transform human hearts anyway. So I don’t engage work colleagues on any of it. I've learned to discern gifts of uneasy détente(s): I can persistently disregard any worship at my school that does not value me or my voice. Which is most all of it. I get to do really amazing work with contemplative women and men, circle-way wisdom work, far beyond the confines of my "job," while I receive compensation and cover for rigorous research. Does this make me complicit or only savvy for what can be life-giving?
More questions than answers... Maybe the 'why' is simply learning the freedom always beckoning in Love's letting go...