Monday morning–the first Monday of the first full week of classes. Last week, classes began on the Tuesday after Labor Day. I have a limited amount of time to write this, but I felt compelled to put something down, instead of read more of my OT supplemental texts–scholars speculating about what really happened between Ham and Noah.
If I continue to keep my eyes on the prize–most of the difficulties that have been presenting themselves seem to be trivial or surmountable. Yes, I might not make lifelong friends here, but I also will be well on my way to having the kind of career I was supposed to have from the beginning. No, being a minister isn’t exactly IT, but I am firmly of the opinion that I need to be doing something professionally that allows me to spend a lot of time with God as well as helping others from the perspective of having the faith that I do. For a married man with a little son, being a monk or priest is out of the question. Converting to Catholicism and continuing to work shit jobs while being as active possible in the church as a layperson until a professional or semi-professional opportunity presents itself–this is also not really the best option. Nor is becoming an Episcopalian minister and converting to Catholicism later so that I could be a married priest. These are both things that men in my position do, but they are roundabout ways of getting to be like Thomas Merton, and they seem to require some amount of duplicity or excessive work in order to arrive at the place of being a full-on, professional man of God.
I think that as a minister I will routinely bump into many people who just aren’t nearly as active in their spiritual lives as I would like them to be, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be–no, it’s expected of me that I will be quite active spiritually in what I do during my so-called free time and how I relate to others. Yes, I may have to keep up on all of the latest, local sporting news, but if I am not as immersed in it as others, people will be understanding in that they know that the church and God are my top priorities.
I think that as a longer lifetime goal, I may very well find myself gradually moving more toward a Catholic kind of living, spending much time in the sanctuary and being reverent and trying to access God as if I were in the middle of a Mass. Certainly at some point, I might seize an opportunity to be involved with the Catholic church as a layperson or educator, or I might become a hospice chaplain who finds himself more regularly attending a local Mass than showing up at the Sunday Presbyterian service. If A goes before me, and L (and any other kid(s) we have) is a self-sufficient adult, I may find myself converting completely and joining a monastic order.
This seems kind of odd to say and think about, but the fact of the matter is that I really do wish I could spend as much of my day as possible praying and meditating upon the Word of God, while still allowing for time and opportunities to help others.
I am still wrestling with what happened at Phil’s Ice House. I know that is crazy, but then, if you know me, you know that I will likely wrestle with it for some time, and perhaps again in the future?
I think that I was right on principle, but wrong in how I responded. I was already pretty pissed off that L had fallen and bloodied his nose after he was just out of arms’ reach from me, while I’d witnessed A stand off to the side and let him dangerously climb around on equipment that he could have just as easily broken his neck on, had he slipped off of it. It wasn’t the first time that L had fallen pretty badly in front of a bunch of people while I was right there next to him.
I was mad that this woman continually deflected any responsibility for her part in the little girl’s stomping on L’s hand. She kept trying to paint the little girl as a helpless little Down’s angel and thereby make me into a monster for daring to be angry over my son getting his hand stepped on. She refused to offer up one word of accountability for her actions, which says a lot about how she goes about her business as a caretaker. For her, it was clearly much more convenient NOT to attempt to teach the little girl right from wrong, and she had clearly gotten away with shutting down any number of parents who sensed something wasn’t right, but didn’t want to be the bad guys in the situation.
I didn’t care. I’d already lost it, so what did I care? And, you know what, I still don’t care the way you probably think that I should. I am not going to seminary to learn how to be saccharine sweet to people who deserve to be rebuked.
I am mostly of a mind that I don’t think I will ultimately land in a pastoral role that sees me being some kind of great saint–an inner city pastor who balances eloquent sermons about social justice with the deep practice of it–feeding millions and training them to have new job skills. I am not a great Christian, but I am not an utterly vapid hypocrite, either. I have to be acutely aware of my strengths and weaknesses.
I also have to be acutely aware of just how many Christians, be they politically liberal or conservative leaning, can come off with attitudes that say they are the most Christian, the most virtuous, and those other Christians are not following Scripture as they should.
I am going to have to put aside a lot of my lingering hopes and dreams–like being a man with a lot of friends who gets to travel to a lot of places. The worldly me that I like to look over my shoulder and occasionally still aspire to be. There is no peace with that self, but simply a poorly-accessed comfort zone.
Let’s face it–my life is no longer my own. I don’t get to declare that this or that thing is what I really want–look at how things went when I did. Inevitably, I started to want everything and would find myself mostly pretending I had or could have everything by immersing myself in a fantasy escape, propelled by booze.
The moment in life I have been waiting for will never come. It isn’t a valid moment, after all. The very way in which I and this universe are constructed predestine me to never being capable of having the kind of moment that someone will want to put inside of a movie–or that someone else would dream of having. I am talking about the epic moment of being or becoming great in some way that is deemed great by others.
The moment in life where I am surrounded by people who are interested in hearing what I have to say will never come. It’s not the time or place for that.
What is happening is that I am learning to abandon all of my preconceived notions about who or what I am supposed to be, because I equated human expectations with God’s with my own.