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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Marking and Making the Passage of Time - All on a Two Dog Night

Ms. Conroy and I stayed in last night. It was waaaayyyyy too cold to venture out - the windchill factor alone became the 'bonechill factor'.

It was at least a two dog night.

So, we went with "Plan B" - got some steamed lobsters and ate them all down at a single go, with TONS of drawn butter, of course. Then we had a yummy chocolate dessert followed by watching movies in the warmth and comfort of our own home.

Have you ever noticed how "Plan B" is often the best plan in the first place? Hey, maybe THAT's why it's called "Plan B". The "B" stands for "best."

Neither of us made it to watch the new - bigger, brighter - ball drop on Times Square. It's always seemed to me an odd way to mark the passage of time. Perhaps that's exactly its appeal and why millions of people from around the world gather there in the frigid cold to watch a ball drop on the New Year.

Some people mark time by making 'New Year's Resolution.' It's a way of expressing regret for things 'done and left undone' in the previous year and committing oneself to change for the better in the year to come.

I've started doing that in several aspects of my life.

I don't know how it happened, really, but the bathroom scale reports this morning that I've gained 12 pounds since just before Thanksgiving. So, you know what the first resolution is all about.

I've also determined to be a better steward of 'family time' - including my church family - as opposed to 'institutional church time.'

This year marks the end of my term as President of the Episcopal Women's Caucus. It will probably mark my last attendance at General Convention. I've been involved in National Church politics and church activism since the early 80's. I think it's time for the next generation to begin to take its place among the ranks of leadership.

Some of that depends on what happens in July and how General Convention looks and acts without three diocese there which had formerly refused to ordain women (San Joaquin, Fort Worth and Quincy), and one which had previously said that The Episcopal Church is apostate (Pittsburgh, of course).

Oh, it won't be all 'peaches and cream' with the absence those four bishops and the usual cast of characters that made up their deputations. We're still The Episcopal Church, with conservatives and progressives and everyone else in the middle.

The heart and soul of Anglicanism has never been about being right - we leave that to our Roman Catholic and Calvinist sisters and brothers. It's been about having an intense intellectual curiosity about the questions, and inviting our friends from Rome and Geneva to sit at the Canterbury table so we can all meet Jesus.

Besides, we still have those who consider themselves 'orthodox' who have decided to stay as the "loyal opposition", committed to changing this "embarrassment of a church" from the inside out to one that is more pure and holy (read: in their image).

They are but a very small fraction of the church as it is presently constituted. Small but loud. Very loud. They make loud, angry noises that scare some people into capitulation.

We'll have to wait and see how they effect the continuing conversation about the full inclusion of "all the baptized in all the sacraments of the church."

In the meantime, I've come to a conclusion that has become a resolution of sorts, I suppose. It's about "the orthodox" whom I, henceforth and furthermore, calling "the orthodites". They are NOT 'right' and they don't have it 'right' and they are not a branch of religion like "Orthodox Christians."

Okay, I suppose that's my first resolution for the New Year in Anglican Land.

The second is not to engage the orthodites in conversation. Well, not about anything having to do with The Episcopal Church or The Anglican Communion.

I did write to a brother orthodite on HOB/D just last night, after a painful conversation about marks of financial success or failure being an indicator of God's blessing on the particular discipleship and theology one was teaching one's flock.

For a few hours, I really thought we might be making some progress, but alas, it was not to be. Still very angry is he.

So, no more engagement in conversations with the orthodites. It's not healthy for them. It's not healthy for me. It's not healthy for the church.

What's that saying attributed to Mark Twain? Oh yes, "Never try to teach a pig to sing. You'll only get frustrated and it will annoy the pig." Right.

I had, just that morning, written privately to Greg Griffiths over in Viagraland, asking him to please remove my "membership" - which, essentially, simply surrenders the "privilege" of posting comments there. My note was a simple request - no reasons, no editorials, no shame, no blame. Just, "Take me off your membership, sir, please and thank you."

Guess what? Now, whenever I sign on over at Viagraland, I get a little notice that "the server is down." That's a lie, of course. They are still up and running.

Greg, bless him from the bottoms of his little pink feet to the top of his pointy little head, is behaving in the predictable pattern of an abuser. I've dared to stop engaging, so he's changed the locks on the door.

Funny, when it isn't pathetic. I can still get over there whenever I want to. I'm not as dumb as Greg thinks I am. The thing of it is, I don't want to. I don't really care anymore.

I realized that when it finally came to me that more than half of the people who comment there are no longer members of The Episcopal Church.

Indeed, some of the board members are no longer Episcopalians, and the others are unrepentant orthodites. So, I've asked myself, "Self? Why do you care what they think?" And myself said, "Right. I don't."

And since I've started a New Year's Policy of Disengagement, well, I'm free.

It's a good feeling. Nah, actually, it's a GREAT feeling.

It's not just about the orthodites although I have given them more of my time than they deserve. I'm ashamed, now, to admit that, but well, there it is.

No, it's really more about the institutional church. She is, I have learned over the past 40 years, a very difficult lover. Mercurial, at times, She can wrap her arms around you one day and betray you the next, all in the name of Jesus.

Here's the thing: in four months, I will be celebrating a significant birthday. The Big Six-O. I'm really excited about that. I've never felt better in my life (well, okay, I'll feel even better after I lose 1-15 pounds and get back into the gym on a regular basis). I have more energy for the people and things I love than I've ever had in my life.

I feel more confident about my skills and abilities. I know what I can do and what I do well. I also know what I can't do and what I can learn to do better, and what I just need to let go of.

I think it's the letting go of the old baggage that is giving me more energy. It's amazing how that works.

I am looking forward to starting 2009 with a building project that will put a new roof on the church, install an elevator and make the bathrooms handicap accessible. I'm hoping to end 2009 with a great sabbatical, coming back refreshed and renewed, and continuing to work hard on building up community and relationship and strengthening ourselves for mission and ministry.

Here's my final resolution: I'm going to stop 'marking' the passage of time and 'making' the passage of time.

By that I mean I am going to be more of a participant and less an observer in life. Okay, well, I haven't exactly been sitting on the sidelines all these years, but I'm thinking I've still got a great deal to do in the next 20 years or so.

It's time to get on with it.

It's time to make and not just mark the passage of time.

Because, what I've learned is that the old saying is true:

Today is - these days are - the good old days.

If you drop by for a visit, tell us some of your 'resolutions'. I'd love to hear what you plan to do with your time.

Happy New Year, everyone!

May peace and prosperity be welcomed guests and lengthy visitors.


Padre Mickey said...

¡Feliz Año Nuevo to you and yours, Revda. Elizabeth!
I don't make resolutions and then I don't have to worry about not keeping them.

I'm with you on the not-talking-with-the-orthodites thang, but I also know that I am weak and, while I don't visit Viagraville very often, I do go to Titus1:9 when I want to raise my blood pressure. The issues of the Church in Central America are not always the same as those in North America, and I'm amazed at the stuff going up in the north. So I just keep praying for you all.

Have a happy new year and thank you for your blog and all you do to help bring about God's Reign.

Muthah+ said...

Happy New Year! Having been in my 60s for some years now, I pass on a little comment from one of my octagenarians from my parish. She said "O, Honey! I would never go back to my 60's! That's when you find out that things don't work as well as they used to. By your 80's, you don't care!"

I take that to mind when the aches and pains want to keep me abed. Since my mom is 97 and still kickin', I have some years to look forward to.

I am dismayed that you would forego the national church work. I have always been upset with the liberal bishops who quit going to convention when they retired and allowed the conservative grums have their say. There are so many places in the Church that continue to need your kind of wisdom, my dear. Stay with us, por favor!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Okay, here's the thing, Muthah+, I'm not retiring. Not any time soon. I've got lots and lots of years left in this girl's body and mind and heart and soul. Jesus ain't no where near done with me. That's first.

The second is that I am not going to stop being an activist. It's in my blood - my DNA. I just think it's time for folks like me to begin to take a seat in the back row. I'll still be very much around, however.

The last thing - the very last thing - I want is for someone to sigh and say, "Oh, God, is SHE still around?" You and I both know people like that.

Just shoot me, okay? Just shoot me.

And, darling Dahveed, there is very little comparison between T19 and Viagraland. T19 has elves who monitor the conversation and bounce those who regularly practice hate-speech. I just discovered that even DV of VOL can't stand the boys at Viagraland. Fascinating. Although, I do think it's probably a boy pissing and marking territory contest, you know, "I'm King of the Orthodite News Hill - no I'M King of the Orthodite News Hill" kinda thing.

While T19 is often one of my stops around the Anglican corner of cyberspace, I rarely comment there. There's often not much to say there that someone else won't say.

My trips to and comments at Viagraland were an even greater rarity and that will remain the case. I'll just check in, as I often do, when a "Big Story" breaks for the orthodites. That will be happening less and less these days. I suspect they'll continue to comment (even if they have to drag stuff over illegally from HOB/D) on TEC, but who cares what they think of us? Most of them are not even members of TEC any longer. Who cares?

The church in the North is very, very different than the one in the South. That's fer shur.

Jeffri Harre said...

I gave up "that place I refuse to go and read" last year for New Year's. It took a while, but I haven't been over there in about six months. I didn't even ask them to remove my membership.

I did slip a couple of times when there were things brewing in the Communion, but even if they seem to get the news faster, I can get it other, saner places fairly quickly. Haven't missed them a bit. I haven't even gone to VOL in months.

Besides, I have too much other stuff on my plate this coming year!


JimMollo said...

For me - Getting better at forgiveness. And it seems to be working.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, so far, dear Elizabeth, I have spent my New Year's day fixing black eyed peas and blogging about the tradition of eating them on New Year's day...and writing a collect for the dinner prayer that was inspired by black eyed peas and Jer. 29:11. Not much of a "resolution."

But I have also started a year long devotional with "A year of days with the BCP." As a backdoor Piskie with heavy Lutheran overtones, I decided I wanted to become more intimately acquainted with the parts of the BCP we only use sporadically, the prayers, the collects, etc.

This, I think will make me look in different parts of the BCP than the "usual" parts. This came out of one of my "walk n' chats" with my vicar, who told me, "As active and imaginative as your mind is, and as well as you can put stuff to paper yourself, I think there is a mine full of hidden treasure for you in the BCP."

I understand perfectly about your need to get a divorce from Viagraville. There is a place where one realizes all that you have left is to shake the dust off your feet, wish them Godspeed, and keep on walkin'. When I meet impasses in my life, I have to resign to myself that, yes, God can change things, but it is apparent He doesn't plan to use me for this job. He probably has other and better plans for me and I should stop beating my head against wall and look for a doorway.

Happy new year!

Jim said...

It is hard for me to imagine anyone new saying, "Is she still here?" The out-of-control hateful have been saying it since you were ordained I think. But no one who admires and loves you and they are many. I am not arguing with your decisions,[I am old not stupid!] merely noting a point. ;-)

I left VOL some time ago for similar reasons. I was and remain willing to engage in serious exploration of varying viewpoints and ideas. I am not willing to be a punching bag. I seldom post on the bullies site. They do not want to consider ideas or even defeat them -- they merely want to shout anathemas: they have their reward.

Ah well.

Happy 2009!

(continuing to recover is slowly, in Chicago)

Padre Mickey said...

I'm not Dahveed, I'm Padre Mickey! We is different persons, yet both your brothers en Christ!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, no! Now it is revealed. I have a crush on Dahveed. My apologies, Padre. I love, love LOVE your Christmas pageant done by your various plastic and clay friends. Always a favorite. It wouldn't be Christmas without it.

Listen, y'all are focusing way too much on what I'm not planning to do rather than what I AM planning to do. Viagraland is a very tiny dot on the Anglican landscape. Let's not ascribe them importance or significance which they do not have. Well, not in my life anyway.

Life is good. It's a gift. Let's celebrate it.

What are you doing to improve the quality of your life in 2009?

Jane Priest said...

OMG! I just figured out what Viagraland is. How funny, and a perfect way to refer to their site. I guess I was a little slow on the uptake. Yeah, the pigs just get frustrated all right.

Sherry said...

Sounds like a lovely ringing in of the new Year. I too have pretty much given up trying to debate those on the far right. There is just no way you are going to change a mind, mine or theirs it seems, and so it only engenders anger and resentment. I find myself composing scathing retorts which of course I never post. It is just plain unhealthy, and I for the most part don't engage in it any more. I liked the process but every forum I have ever found deteriorates into rancor and hostility. May the New Year bring much joy. I'm reading more, and determined to do my treadmill and stay focused on finishing tasks that I start.!

Fran said...

This is beautiful Elizabeth - I love what you say about making time rather than marking it at the end.

That said, the whole post just resonated with who you are and how your light shines in the world.

I am ever grateful to bask in the glow of that light!