I woke up from a lot of dreams, and then almost immediately after that, my son came running in. It was almost 6. I dreamed that he’d finally gone to the bathroom properly, though it took some coaxing. I dreamed that I was in some place like Walmart, but it was grimier, and a guy I don’t think I know in real life was recommending a German techno band to help me get through grad school. The CD cost $96, but there were cassette tapes of some of their previous albums ranging from $3-$9. I decided to buy all of the cassette tapes, remembering that I still owned my old boombox. I left briefly and came back, and some kind of civil war or chaos had started. The store was covered with thick mud, and there were tons of people in it. I realized that I could fly even as people were jumping out of a window to serious injury or even death. I told everyone that they just had to believe they could fly and they would fly. I discovered that a lady S from school was there and told her to grab onto me from behind (like riding a motorcycle, nothing intimate) I was calling her someone else named S who is the wife of M from school, but it was clearly this lady S. I jumped out of the window with her holding onto me from behind, and we flew over some buildings.
I came upon my ex-girlfriend D, who happened to own my old bike that I’ve loaned my dad. She seemed sort of interested in seeing me, but didn’t want to talk. She went into her work and S and I walked on to this place that was kind of like a mall. In the mall, two political groups had formed around those who used Windows PCs and those who used Linux PCs. Some older guys were taking light jabs at each other about their preferred political party. Even though their humor was light, there was also a sense of great tension in the air, like a real civil war was about to break out like in the other place. I walked on, and came upon a room where my mom was staying, much like the last hospital room she’d been in before she was moved to hospice. She jumped down to see me and we both cried. My dad was there, and so was D from school, who has recently been talking about putting her mom in hospice care. My mom was clearly not well, but she was in better shape than she had been before she died. We were both very happy to see each other and started crying.
This has been the first relatively happy and normal dream I’ve had about my mom in a long time. Usually, I am screaming at her or unable to connect with her, or some other terrible thing has come between us in the dream.
I woke up feeling slightly uneasy about my recent decision to work aggressively toward finding a new job and leaving school. Lately, I’ve often felt a little uneasy or less than certain this is going to be a good decision upon waking from naps or sleep, though I quickly find myself rationally seeing that this can only be a good thing for me and my family.
I have tried to envision a path out of here into a career that would make sense and enable us to have the kind of financial stability we need even for one child. I’ve wrestled with the biblical statement about not being fit for the kingdom of heaven if I put my hand back on the plow, even though I know that for many pastors, chaplains and academics in this field, they are, for all intents and purposes, seeking as much of a pragmatic career within an organization as I have been with trying to find new work at various companies. I could also make the argument that there are plenty of people in “normal” jobs who are doing more of the Lord’s work by exemplifying Christ in their workplace or in their communities and churches than some of the careerist pastor types who will come out of this seminary.
There is no question that people who have already had at least some significant professional or voluntary experience in ministry are doing so much better here than those of us who don’t have it. In the first category, I would certainly include all of these children of ministers and other notables of our denomination who have been immersed in this denomination and its traditions from their birth. They are like fishes perfectly swimming in water, and to this day, I still feel like I am scuba diving with defective gear that might cause my lungs to implode at any minute. What’s more, I would argue that most of the pastor’s kids and professional ministers here have more often than not (with a few notable and very worthy exceptions) have done little to make the rest of us who aren’t coming from those backgrounds feel welcome or like we really belong here. I’ve heard professors say flat out that the church just doesn’t need any more white, male voices in it, and I’ve gotten the same sentiment almost explicitly from a recent pastor. Probably the one standout moment where I felt like I was truly called to be doing this sort of work was when I bought a homeless fellow shoes during a volunteering morning, instead of simply telling him the usual routine that we didn’t have any shoes in his size. That, I felt, almost singly, was true doing of the Lord’s work, and all this bullshit declining of Greek nouns is on the far end of the spectrum away from doing the Lord’s work. I should stress that I don’t think that studying the Bible in its original text is without merit–I’ve bought a linear Bible to use for private study and reflection for the rest of my life. But, I do think that much of the content in our Greek class has been carried over from a hundred plus years ago when ministers (of a few select Protestant denominations and sometimes Catholic priests) were expected to be perfect academics first who could explain at length any passage of the Bible as well as your average German bible scholar. However, the kinds of ministry and non-traditional work most of these students will be going into is work that will require them to have much better people skills and bedside manner than a lot of them do. Some of their lack of bedside manner is mostly just due to being young, but I certainly wouldn’t have expected to have encountered so many shy and awkward introverts in one place.
At any rate, I need a lot more than just vague feelings of unease upon waking to be certain that I should be staying here. I need to be connecting with people and opportunities in ways that I haven’t been able to. A lot of this may be due to all of my own social phobias kicking in, and me falling back on running on autopilot rather than continuing to try to be more outgoing, but I also think that if this really is the Lord’s will for me to be here and to be on a path toward some form of ministry, I need more evidence of some kind, not necessarily a sign or an epiphany, just a feeling like I really do belong here.
When I mentioned the passage about “he who puts his hand on the plow” I think I should be fair in also mentioning that there are passages in the Bible about would-be prophets thinking they’ve been called by God when they have not, and James 3:1 about “not many of you should become teachers, because we will have heavier judgement,” and those words about not aiming for things that are too high for you. I have written before about how I may be like a fourth sort of archetypal person in the parable of talents–one who is given a few talents but instead of hiding them like the third guy or using them well like the first two, I continually try to act as if I’ve been given more talents than I really do have and so, in effect, in up misusing the talents I have been given, or end up keeping them more hidden in continually hoping that I was actually the guy who was given ten talents.
At any rate, any time you go thinking that the Bible has verses that speak to you one way and lead you in one direction, you will find plenty of other verses that can just as easily send you in another direction.