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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Takin' the long way

There's a song by the Dixie Chicks that I've found myself singing lately. It's from their CD "Takin' the Long Way." The words to the title song go something like this:
My friends from high school
Married their high school boyfriends
Moved into houses in the same ZIP codes
Where their parents live

But I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow
I've been working on the next chapter of my life and I realize that what I'm about to embark on is not really unlike the rest of my life thus far. 

I've never followed the crowd. I've always taken the long way.

That means I've never had a lot of money - probably never will - and, that's okay. I've always seem to have what I've needed and my needs are pretty simple.

I've never really wanted for the basics in life for myself and our family - food on the table, a warm roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, a good education.

Oh, I've had "jobs" that I didn't really love and others that weren't exactly satisfying and none of them paid very well, but I've always moved on to the next thing which was usually better than what I left - at least, initially.

I have been - and, am - very blessed.

I have no reason to believe that I won't continue to be blessed as I move forward out of a sabbatical year and into a future that is not exactly traditional.

Most of my clergy friends who begin collecting their pensions immediately embark on a series of interim ministries in congregations in transition.

I couldn't imagine it! I mean, in many ways, I loved many of the parts of parish ministry. I can't imagine being any place else on Sunday morning than in church. But, it's really wonderful not to be "the rector" and be ministered to in Word and Sacrament.

One of my colleagues said that he was "just an old race horse". He said, "I put my collar on and I'm off. Truth is," he said, "I really don't know what else to do."

And then, he sighed and said, "And, with my pension being what it is, I really need the extra money."

I'm sure he's good at what he does. I'm sure he still makes an important contribution to the congregations he serves in their transition. I think he even likes what he does, once he gets to church on Sunday morning.

Still, I couldn't help but feel the weight of the sadness in his voice. No passion. No enthusiasm. What was once a 'fire in the belly' is now a few smoldering embers.

I can't imagine it!

What I'm coming to love is working with Vestries on leadership development, facilitating conversations and mentoring them on what it means to be a Servant Leader. I'm really feeling called to this work and am amazed by the hunger most Vestry folk have to learn more about what it means to be in leadership in the Church.

I've facilitated a few "Mutual Ministry Review" processes and found it an excellent way to raise awareness and insights and provide information about the ministry and mission of the church. It helps to empower both the laity and clergy to discern what it is God is calling them to do and be in their lives of faith.  It helps to clarify roles and expectations and begins to level the playing field which has the potential to liberate everyone to do the work of the Gospel. When done well, it's a lot of work, but I think it's critically important to a healthy congregation and sound leadership.

I'm also loving even more being involved in Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction, listening for The Holy in people's stories, holding up a mirror to let them see what I see, working with them to rekindle or bringing into clearer focus an awareness of the fullness and mystery of life.

And, leading retreats and educational programs in congregations about topics their rectors can't - or won't - because it would get him or her in hot water.

You know, doing the best parts of parish ministry without the headaches of being a rector.

Oh, and writing. Yes, I've heard some of you. I am going to "write that book" - although, for the life of me I don't understand why anyone would pay good money to read in a book what they've already read most of for free on my blog.  I also feel called - well, more "pushed and shoved" to do that.

So, I've spent the last few weeks looking at office space and deciding on a name for it (I guess I'm a lot like the ancient Hebrews. Every holy place has to have a name). I've designed a business card and selected a logo and a motto ("Awakening the fullness and mystery of life").

I'm working with a colleague to design a website with links that describes the various services I'll be offering (that's the hard part). I haven't yet determined the fee scale. Let's just say I'm going to need a whole lot of foot traffic to make this little enterprise lucrative. Good thing that's not my goal.

I've even selected a piece of scripture to put on my card and website. It's Sirach 26:10. Just the citation of scripture, is all. Folks can look it up if they want.

Go ahead. Look it up for yourself. Okay, okay, I'll tell you:
"Keep strict watch over a headstrong daughter
or else, when she finds liberty, she will use it.
I thought that was fair warning.

If you consider the fact that I've been humming a song from The Dixie Chicks, that I chose that piece of scripture won't come as much of a surprise. Here's how the song ends:
Well, I fought with a stranger and I met myself
I opened my mouth and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself

But I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow

Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found

Taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Oh, there's still a part of me that wishes I could fit into the whole 'corporate America' scheme of things and could have "moved with the shakers and kissed all the asses that they told me to." I could probably have made a ton of money. God knows, there are still places in the church where that can - and does - happen.

But I, I could never follow.

So, off I go then, on another adventure into the Great Unknown. I hear Jesus calling me and I can feel a gentle push from the Holy Spirit at my back. I've got some fire in my belly, a dream in my heart and a song in my head.

What more do I need?

Well, a few prayers from y'all wouldn't hurt. You know. Just a few "arrow prayers" shot this way every now and again. Whenever you have a few seconds.

Indeed, I think it's the only other thing I've ever really needed when I journey on the path that is the long way 'round.

It may be all any of us need whenever we seek to "awaken the fullness and mystery of life".

It's gotten me to where I am today, and, you know, I wouldn't take nothin' for my journey now.


DeanB said...

why someone might want to pay good money for a book when they've read most of it in the blog

* it's easier to find something you want to re-read in a book

* it's easier to show a friend in a book

* they want to give it to a friend

* you can highlight or make marginal comments (not that I do very often)

* you can still read it during a power failure

* some people just like books

motheramelia said...

I think we are kindred spirits in the not following bit. Prior to ministry if someone said "would you like to come and do ....." If it sounded good, I'd say yes. So that meant a lot of moves. Perfect background for a person who loved moving around to do transition ministry. Now I need to settle down and the interim stuff no longer fits. I do love helping congregations find out who they are and what kind of person they need to call to do it. Enjoy the transition. Whatever you do will be right for you.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

We've talked about this before. You're treading on territory that desires naming.

This is ministry that treads on new, but holy ground, that has been lying fallow. I think I have something upstairs that can help support this ministry. Count me in!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Motheramelia, for the affirmation. This make not make sense to some but it just "feels" right for me.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

DeanB - I love my Kindle but I love books more. These days, it's a question of space for me. I don't "invest" in the purchase of a book unless it's really necessary. You may find yourself there, someday, when you have to move and you look at all those books and think, "What was I thinking?"

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - Thanks, Doc.

Matthew said...

I hope you do more spiritual development. In my experience there is a huge dearth of discernment going on in most of our ministries.

As for the book, finding something written on a blog long ago is so maddening and frustrating. There are times when I've recalled one of your blog posts but i cannot recall the name of it or even the year you wrote it but I recall the "theme" of it. Searches don't really help. Even if you just had a list of every blog post you'd ever written, along with the title, date and a one to two sentence abstract of what it was about, it would make things so much better. Books are great because of tables of contents and indexes.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Matthew - I agree. Most people are afraid of it and lots of folks out there who are doing "spiritual direction" haven't been properly prepared to help folk with this area of spirituality. They are prepared to "direct" not help "discern". Big difference.

As for the book: Okay, okay. I confess that I keep having this nightmare of seeing "my" book on a discount $1 table in the aisle at Wal*Mart. I wake up in a sweat.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Godspeed as you venture down a new path, Elizabeth. If your decision 'feels' right, then it probably is right.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Mimi. It feels absolutely right.

Brother David said...

Hopefully the DCs are just as embarrassed by Perry as they were by Bush!

Karen said...

"I keep having this nightmare of seeing "my" book on a discount $1 table in the aisle at Wal*Mart."

And then someone who could not have bought it at full price will have a blessing in their life.

Liz "pansyliz" said...

Did you know that the Dixie Chicks, all three have participation in the Episcopal church in their background? One of the sisters was married by an Episcopal priest from their parish in Houston and then Maines was involved in one in Lubbock.
LFS liz

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Karen - Awww thanks so much.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Liz - Wait. Wait. Wait. There's an Episcopal Church in Lubbock? Get OUT! How many attend on Sunday? 10??? 12???

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Okay - so, really? 1,253 visitors today? As of 11:58 pm? For this? Who are you and why are you reading this drivel?

walter said...

Elizabeth 4, happiness is seeing the best incarnation of Elizabeth Kaeton & Walter Vitale Collective Unconscious God in your logo and motto Awakening the fullness and mystery of life. Considering your selected piece of Scripture 4 I believe that a very appropriate name may be Kaeton Vital Grace. I dare to hope also that you may see in your affirmative mission of pastoral counseling and spiritual leadership the incarnation of Elizabeth Kaeton & Walter Vitale Collective Unconscious God and our Working together. As to the probabilities of making a lot of money I believe they are very low but the possibility 0 does not exist. In the name of the One who keeps us centered and focused, Jesus the Christ.

Walter Vitale

IT said...

Remember lots of people don't read blogs. Lots.

And so what if it is on the $1 discount table? There's a lot of wisdom to share, and the person who picks it up might be exactly the person who needs to read it.

W/V Dreme