Saturday, September 09, 2006

Gold in California

(With apologies/homage to Kate Wolf; the title fits.)

The subject of an e-mail I haven’t answered yet reads, “Are you home?” (Hi Mimi, yes I am.) I’ve been back in CA for a little over a week, and back in school since Tuesday. It’s good to be back here.

I drove from Olympia down to the Apostle in Exile’s house a week ago last Wednesday, and have absolutely no recollection of when I got there or what we did. (Dinner and talking are safe assumptions.) I did my laundry the next morning, and came over here. Got lunch on campus, as it was the middle of orientation, and caught up with some friends. Picked up my keys, dragged everything from my car up to my room, made my bed and collapsed into it. Got up the next morning and bought my books, drove back to the Apostle’s house, and bounced back and forth between there, school, and San Francisco with her all weekend. We went to an art show in Sausalito on Saturday. (There was some neat stuff, and some very weird.) That night we went on an impromptu walking tour of Berkeley-Oakland. We wanted to go to Kirala for sushi; neither of us had been, and we’d heard it was really good. In daylight, when you know where you are, it’s four blocks from the Ashby BART. We came out oriented the wrong way, and walked about four miles. I have never worked so hard for dinner, or been so happy to get it. We ate about 9:30 that night. Walked back to BART the short way, laughing the whole time, and rode it downtown. We hiked up the hill from the Berkeley BART to school, and ate chocolate cake at midnight.

I brought her to church with me at St. Aidan’s on Sunday. I was so excited to be home that I was twitching all the way up the hill on the bus. (I’ve walked up many times, but she was already maintaining that I was out to kill her, so we didn’t.) I hadn’t seen most of these people since the middle of May, but we’d been in touch. Other than getting lots of welcome-home hugs, and the liturgy having changed for the season, it was like I really hadn’t been gone long. I fit back in without having to think about it. It’s home.

The Apostle and I went to lunch at a really good bistro, and part of a free Shakespeare play (The Tempest) in the Presidio. We got there late, weren’t following it, and got cold, so we left early. We went back to her house, and stayed home all day Monday. I drove back to school Tuesday morning.

We mostly had a really great time. I had done a lot of healing in Seattle. I was glowing, bouncy-happy, excited to be back, and ready for anything. But we talked about one thing that troubled me, which I won’t go into here. The result of it, though, is that I’m looking at God sideways. I pray reluctantly, and only when I’m leading it publicly. I haven’t been to chapel when I haven’t had to be. I’m going to church tomorrow, because I agreed to speak and because I love the community. I only can worship with a small piece of me. I need to talk to God, but I don’t want to. I’m angry, and I have to face that, but I don’t feel ready for the level of anger that I feel. I’m engaged in my classes, but not fully, because they’re all about learning, preaching, or doing theology, and there’s that hesitation again. I’ve gotten huge pieces of my happiness and competence back—but I feel like I need to go someplace and scream and cry for awhile, where no one can hear me but God. I live in a physical fishbowl; you can’t walk outside without being seen by all the resident students and most of the administration. I have a counselor whom I already know—but she’s out of town until October. I have good friends here—but last year held its own trauma, and I don’t want to feel like a poster child again.

I need to work through this now, so it doesn’t keep shadowing me. I need to participate fully in this community. I will; I am so much better than at the beginning of this week, and I am nothing if not motivated. My church, school, and friend communities (including the Apostle herself) support me. If something I trip over breaks me open, I have to let it. I only need to do that in a safe place, to define when and how I will walk there.

My classes themselves are really good; I’m going to enjoy them. I’m not doing Field Ed now, like most of the continuing class, because I want to do a focused internship later. I needed to ground myself more where I am, in my own personal discernment and in the parish I've adopted. So, I’m taking a full academic load instead. I’m taking Hebrew, Modern Church History, Homiletics, and Ethics (which last is why Thursdays particularly rock; the instructor is fabulous as a teacher and as a person, and the whole question of the class is how to live your faith). I don’t know right now how to preach a God I’m completely in favor of, but I do know how to wrestle, and I know how to write and speak honestly. My passion is the inclusion of everyone’s voices; I want to learn to use mine well. My goal for this year’s history/theology sequence is simply to not suck. Hebrew’s easy and mostly mechanical; it’s memorizing vowels and grammar rules, and beginning to translate. I love that and I’m good at it. I’m back in the rhythm of prioritizing academic, personal, and spiritual time. It’s so tempting to do all the fun stuff first—and that does not necessarily include difficult reading. This is life now, though, and I’m here because I want and need to be. I know why I need this education, and I know why I want it. The secret, I think, is not losing touch with joy. I have grown a lot, and even I can see it. All I really have to do—the only non-negotiable in any of this—is stay open. Listen to what the words, nudges, and breezes are saying to me, and don’t worry about much else.

On that note, I have to finish my talk for tomorrow, and keep up with my history reading. Peace to all.

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