Rev. Catharine Is Currently
On Medical Leave

Making Room for God

Making Room for God

From Facebook this week, posted by our comrade Jack Mandeville and credited to “Mindful Christianity Today”:

“You have permission to rest. You are not responsible for fixing everything that is broken. You do not have to try and make everyone happy. For now…It’s time to replenish.”

The quotation above was set into a meme I saw this week. It showed part of a person, wearing a fuzzy sweater, holding a steaming cappuccino mug in their (apparently white) hands.

Now I know that there are many totally valid critiques of the concept of “self-care.” For one thing, for so many people, it’s a luxury they simply cannot access. They don’t have time to take a bath before bed. They have a family to care for, and are doing the work of or actually have three jobs to do it.

Or maybe, like many of the religious professionals I know, they’ve been told over and over again during their education and credentialing that it’s important, but then they find themselves in situations where work expectations are much more demanding than expected. The disconnect between what they (we) are told to do, and what our culture of work demands of them is vast.

I am wondering, however, more about spaciousness and how we can get a little bit of it even when it seems we can have zero time to ourselves. As I wrote last week, I had a bit of spaciousness, and it helped me write in a way I hadn’t in a long time.

The thing was, the water in the well was shallow. Not enough. It basically only lasted long enough to write to you. Having worked super hard to prepare for new projects from June through January just wore me out.

And not only that, my exhaustion “bleached” me. If you’re in the Facebook group, or know me in other contexts, you may know that my hair is blue, violet, and turquoise. It is a luxury for me. I can’t afford to keep it up as much as would be ideal, so my regrowth comes in and I just pretend I don’t notice, until I have saved up the “pin money” to have it redone.

But it makes me happy every single time I see it. In the mirror in the bathroom. In our Beloved Selfies thread in The Way of the River Community Facebook Group. When I get it done, and my stylist blows it dry all curly, I feel, as they say, “like a million bucks.”

before the blue and turquoise made their appearance
So what do I mean by “bleached”?

I mean that those months of overwork and overcommitment left me feeling empty. Like my well was dry, cracked, hopeless. Like the more colorful parts, the expressive parts, the inspired parts had lost all their juice.

I doubted anything I might have had to say. I’m sure you understand this feeling; it’s the gnawing feeling in your gut that the work you’re doing and difference you’re trying to make just don’t really matter.

I mean that I felt as though I could no longer share the “edgier” parts of myself. Who would want to know about them?

I forgot how many of my comrades are queer of sexuality, gender or both. I forgot how many of us are neurodivergent. I forgot how many of us play with kink. I forgot how many of us are fat. I forgot how many of us play Twister with different religious traditions. I forgot how many of us are polyromantic, polysexual, asexual, and other kinds of underrepresented, misunderstood, criticized, or just plain erased from this culture’s understanding of relationship.

In short, I got away from why so many of us are here together. I forgot why we need one another. I forgot why you need me and I need you and we need the community we create as a place of love and trust. I forgot that God calls each of us in our own story, our own specificity, our own history. Goddess has called me to be someone else. I’ve forgotten that–I forgot by accident, but I forgot it, nonetheless.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I didn’t realize that taking time to rest when I have time built in to rest is part of my service, part of my ministry, part of what inspires and supports all of us.

I didn’t realize that pushing myself so hard, trying to fix things that weren’t mine to fix (see quotation above), and steadfastly refusing to replenish would have such consequences.

But it did.

So I… without kids, able to rest if I commit to it, having only one paying ministry, if inclined to overcommitment, am intending a couple of things.

  1. I intend to rest every day. There is time in my day to do it, and sometimes I squander that time by being on my blasted phone. I need to turn it off and sleep, or at least just rest myself. By resting myself, I hope to gain the spaciousness I need to be more open, inspired, and free.
  1. I intend to discuss more of the edgy, the more colorful parts of myself. The way I used to. The way people who read my blog (which is slowly coming back!) used to really love.

Yes, I’ll talk about my history, but also the ways my current life is configured. I look like a nice, settled, sane, lesbian lady moving out to a shishi neighborhood (how do you spell that?).

But I am not lesbian, I’m pansexual. I am sane, but it’s thanks to enough drugs that I’m ashamed to discuss it (not to mention years of therapy). I’m a very sensitive soul, as it were (cue Jewel music), and bullying and sexual assault have left their permanent marks. Monogamy hasn’t always come easily to me (This is not to say that everyone should be monogamous. I am functionally monogamous at the moment, however, and have been for years.). I am both a minister and a witch. I’m the fattest person I know.

All these identities invite growth, change, commitment, and love. And they’re also identities with stigma, oppression, and pain attached. Many of you share them.

And I’m white. I’m solidly middle-class, both socially and economically. And I’m well-educated–even though I didn’t get my undergraduate degree until I was 35, I come from a family of reading, talking, analyzing academics. I was a professional musician who had a full scholarship the first time I went to college.

These identities leave their marks too. And awareness of them invites growth, change, commitment, and love. Many of you hear those invitations too.

I’m trying to answer those invitations.

Will you answer them with me?

One of my friends said of me years ago, “She lives her life like it’s written in El Marko.” (Those giant, black markers; you know ‘em?) I want to speak my ministry in a new version of El Marko, or at least multi-colored Sharpie. And in those many colors, I hope to draw a life from which you can gain more sustenance, joy, and love. And, even more important, one that gives me nourishment, delight, and desire.

I love you.


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