By-laws and Patience.

April 18, 2010

I had to set a boundary today.  The committee was just pushing on my nerves so hard I had to leave the room.  I said I would not yet again put red line and strike out through the entire by-laws like they didn’t like when we did it before.  They finally came around to my point of view after I left the room steaming.  I did not leave the building.  I sat on the couch in the foyer, considering my ministry.

This steams my cookies.  People who come in last moment with great suggestions yet refuse to be involved with the committee that’s been meeting for most of a year  to clarify the situation.  That toasts my cookies quite well.  I think I would have been more reasonable on another day.   Not  a good day for me over all.

I’m thinking can I be a minister with my high expectations?  I expect people to read and care about the rules they make for themselves.   I expect people to show up early in the process if they have a concern about it.   I expect people to try and have something that they do that speaks to their spirit or builds the community each week (outside of Sunday Service)  I expect people to read before commenting (or listen)

I don’t think it’s an attack on me personally, however, I have lost patience with useless badly formed suggestions late in the process that are not helpful.  If you care,  get on the committee, don’t show up once a year and expect all your situations that you just thought up a minute ago to be implemented because you communicated them to the right people…

So can I be a minister with this attitude?  Is it possible?  How can I communicate in such a way as to accept such comment gently?  I think you have an idea there, how would you feel about implementing that yourself.  I feel like I’ve put in massive effort here and don’t want to go in that direction, but if you have the energy to implement it.  Feel free!  I just cannot bear unergetically funded mandates.  Why doesn’t the “committee” just do double effort?  Are you part of this committee?  Can you double yours  first and we’ll see how that feels?

I thinks I needs a vacation.  Let’s hear it for summer when there are no by-laws meetings, no after church events, no choir even, let’s see how I do with an easier schedule for heaven’s sake!

Amazing District Assembly

April 11, 2010

The Florida District Assembly was held at the Miami Congregation in  South Miami.  I had the best time and got to meet a superstar or two. Gini Courter is the UUA moderator and she was there.  I sat up front, because,  why not?  So I got the opportunity to go,  I got funding and support and here I am in the presence of one of our leaders.  Should I sit shyly in the back and look out the window?  I think not.  I was no further than 3rd row back for the entire weekend.  Gini was just as wonderful as I remember from watching her work in podcasts and online streams from General Assembly.  I was not surprised but pleased to have my socks knocked off.  (Okay I don’t really wear socks anyways, it’s Florida okay?)  I am very happy that I got there and was able to spend time with so many great people from the Florida District.  I enjoyed talking with Kenn Hurto and Gini together.  They were joking around and I was loving it.  Such amazing learning opportunities for me and it didn’t hurt a bit.

Actually I am a bit tired out, but I think that is a base requirement for a good meeting.  I did run into some food I shouldn’t have eaten.  I am a touch itchy.  I know it will pass after another dose of benedryl.  So I continue to wonder if I am going to be a minister some day. Surely if it were not so expensive I would already be started.  Now my life is about finding some kind of J.O.B. to keep myself in housing and groceries until my tech skills are needed again.  It would be an awesome time to work on a degree, but I have old student loans that must be taken care of before I can start on new ones.  Can I realistically handle the stress of ministry?  I know I have competencies already.  I am fluent in Islam, and Christianisty,  I know a  bit about Judiasm and some about Hindu and Buddhist teaching.  I am good at building bridges between people.  I am good at talking to folk through sermon, in small group and one on one. I am growing in my knowledge of UU history and how the UUA works now.   I wonder whether I would love the stress of doing that stuff all day every day.  I wonder if my affected extroversion ( I act extroverted to make myself comfortable. )  would serve me well. I know I need more at home do nothing time than I get at District Assemblies and GAs and so forth.  But life is not usually so intense all the time is it?

So part of my path of discernment is to read the MFC list and keep notes on what I have read.  I think it lets me know part of what I would be getting myself in for.   And if I learn more things, gain more competencies it will not hurt me.  It will help me.  I was looking at what Gini does (flying around to go to district events, serving (yay running) the board and knowing her UUism backwards and forwards).  I was wondering if life as a lay leader could be enough.  I sure do love to present sermons.  I am comfortable in the pulpit.  Who knows why. Sometimes I feel and act all ministerial.  Is it enough?

By the way, the idea to read the MFC list was mine,  my minister is not “making” me do it.  She does support me in the idea that reading that list will give me enough information with which to make a decision.  She loves the idea, and although I understand no one does it that way, I have no idea why not and I figure I can keep track of the work I am doing on the competencies real time while I am working on it in an organized fashion.  I can’t imagine maintaining a list of books read in my head, that would be crazy.  I understand most people put it all off to the last moment, but I think I will do it first.  With my memory as it is, with my stress being as it is, I think I will have to play at being organized even in order to make a decision of whether or not to apply to attend seminary.

I am still working on this and Kenn told me today to Don’t do something, just sit there.  So here I will be sitting patiently with discomfort, while reading on and sharing my thoughts.  Perhaps I need a lotto ticket though.  I big pile of money sure would clarify things..  Yeah.

Religious Literacy

March 8, 2010

This was the title of the talk by Rev. Gail and I knew that there was going to be a test.  I wanted to get all the questions right. Overall my Christianity is a bit shakey.  I was unable to get the first 4 books of the new testament and I could only find 6 commandments living in my brain.  I did know the names of the major books of Hinduism and Islam. I was a bit embarrassed about my score and she has inspired me to memorize these details. It’s not a lot.  The next time, if there is a test.  I want to be ready.

Henry is on travel, I found I missed the opportunity to continue the conversation.   I did talk with our Minister about getting Adult OWL into our church.  I think we should be offering it for ourselves and for the community.  I believe that as a denomination this is something which we have a strategic advantage on and we should be taking the opportunity to offer it.  It’s one of the ways in which we are just better than the other guys. I hope I can make it happen!

Henry is cooler than we thought

March 1, 2010

I spent an outrageous afternoon with Henry talking about just everything.   Apparently he is very very over educated.  He has multiple Masters degrees.  In France I think it was early in her career he studied with Mary Daly.  A man who with a class of men studied with Mary Daly.  Today I saw this blog from Rev Cyn about Mary Daly.  I told Henry today that I was learning a lot from him.  He just couldn’t believe it…  He told me that Mary Daly was teaching him a class of metaphysics and he and his classmates (all men = a long time ago) were not getting it and she was very frustrated and the women at another school were studying the same thing and having no problem with it.  (Men and women are different – I knew that!)  So he’s done a lot of interesting things.  I bet if he tried today he’d figure it out.  He mentioned today that he suffers from depression, and I told him that sometimes I do too.  It seems to very directly with IQ eh?

What a pleasure to have someone so ready to learn and by accident to teach me even more.  I’m so excited to go to RE on Tuesday to see what that brings up.  I’m feeling a bit like I need to study up so that I am ready.  Since his questions follow no particular pattern though, I wonder what it would be that I would study?   Maybe it’s like preparing for a Sermon.  What ever it is will turn up without much help from me.

When I was 13,  there was going to be a standardized test at school, I felt like I should be ‘studying’ for it, but I didn’t know what to study, so I was messing around in my brother’s room, like I shouldn’t have been doing and I came across the driver’s handbook for Florida.  What the heck, nothing better to do, I’ll read it.  So I did and I kind of knew all of that stuff, except that I noticed that to back up you were supposed to turn around and not use your mirrors.  This was surprising to me, I mentioned it to my mother who modeled the technique for me the next place we drove together.  So the next day I took the test and I was almost finished with it when I saw the page, that was from the Florida driver’s handbook and the question about backing up and the choices were with the mirrors or by turning your head around to look.  I skipped reading it and found those were the questions, double checked the answers (in case there was another version) and then hurried on to the last section of the test.

In seventh grade I was considered the best reader in the school.  Reading at 12th grade level.  I scored so high because I studied, without knowing it, the exact right thing on the exact right day.  So I’ll cast around and see what falls into my hands.

Let’s call him Henry.

February 25, 2010

I decided that there needs to be a second chapter to the story.  Things are going great.  My friend Henry of the not quite appropriate RE fame has become my own personal project.  I was elected into giving him the orientation.  However, he has a million questions.  Questions about the source of our denomination (Unitarian Universalism)   and about all the other faiths that we respect.  He was raised with Catholic School Upbringing, and having left that, threw out the Baby, the bath water and the entire tub of religion.  His absolute and pervasive cluelessness is helpful in RE.  He thought that blessing HAD to come from some other being.  There had to be a God of some sort in order to have a blessing.  Some blessings just are.  Like when you almost fall but don’t or maybe you had the fortune not to be in Haiti on the wrong day.  He thought that for something to qualify as a blessing it had to have some supernatural divinity attached to it.

Henry is opening my mind to how people get caught up in the word wars in ways I couldn’t guess.  He thought also that prayer had to have a God associated with that (this would be the bathwater I think)  and finding out that prayer was poetry directed both outwards and inwards.  He found this exciting.  He’d put prayer down as he considered himself an atheist.  As he rejected the God of his childhood.  Finding out he could take it up again while retaining his religious dignity was freeing.

Henry is going to make me a minister, if it can be done, by showing me all the ways that humanists can get caught up in the definitions of church learned before they were 10.  Last night there was a meditation.  He said to me, what’s that?  A blessing?  I told him it was his assignment to go down the hall and check it out.  He came out glowing with peace and relaxation.  He’d never experienced that kind of thing before.  I think the meditation of his childhood was something mostly about guilt and the contemplation of sin.  He’d never had opportunity before to quiet the mind and just see what was there for him to see.  He thought it was the best thing ever.

Henry, by the way, has a Masters degree and is very well read.  Which is why I had no trouble assigning him Karen Armstrong’s “The History of God”.  He has such huge holes in his knowledge of  religion outside of Christianity.  He may determine that there’s something to all these people with other beliefs after all.  It’s quite wonderful.  I told him to read it without try to memorize all the details.  That no one could really remember all of that.  I told him about her history as an X-nun theologian.  I hope he finds her as inspiring as I do.  I certainly would not suggest to him her latest book on Atheism until he gets the other bits down first.

I was dreading working with him because i couldn’t understand his cluelessness but now I think I get it more and I will be able to take both of us on a trip through the introduction to Unitarian Universalism.

Pray for him would you?  Now he knows what it is, I think he is okay with it.

Religious Education

February 18, 2010

We are having  an RE evening each week and we have a new church friend who is carrying some really substantial baggage about religion.  He is very interested in participating and loves to share uncomfortable stories with us in a very dramatic way.  I’d love to know how other people have handled such persons.  It’s not a total hijack of the class but his comments don’t actually answer the question that was just asked.  Our RE leader was adept at bringing him back into the conversation.  And I think given an opportunity I would have him do readings for us as much as possible.   I’m sure you’ve run across this type of person before.  I’m trying to figure out how to help him and the class to be able to accept him (I think we are doing fairly well so far but would love to have insight from others. )

I did a Ritual

January 1, 2010

Last Sunday I created and led a ritual to let go of habits we want to get rid of.  I mentioned that I had “read” Karen Armstrong’s Book “The Case For God” and one point that she made (again and again) was that Liturgy was the work of the people and the idea was that religion was to be experienced the idea was not to tell people what to think, but give them experience it for themselves.

I told them as introduction that I wanted them to have an experience so that they would learn something and then  I had people write something (or make a mark – for privacy) on a paper that I had provided. and then fold it half and hold it real tight and without ripping see if your neighbor can pull it away from you.  (Unsuccessful of course) Then I had them  let the habit  go and let their neighbor have the papers… Then baskets were circulated to retrieve crayons and bad habits for burning after service – (I don’t burn paper in the sanctuary – it’s my policy)

If I do this again I would add the part about habits we want to form in  the next year and have people call their good intentions into our sacred space.  So that would be one perfectly good example of participating in ministry. I do such things as a matter of course.  I think it will take practice to record it all.  I will have to remember to keep track of it all here.

Next time I must remember to bring my own lighter so it’s easy burning.  It would be cool to find paper that’s better for burning.  The copy paper is smoky and stinky.  I wonder if they use that at the Vatican.  (Tee hee!)

My church resolutions – 2010

January 1, 2010
  1. I want to  throw a New Years Celebration (Dry or practically dry)  next year.   We didn’t this year, but I wonder what would happen if we did.   I think I would call it an annual celebration even the first time.  If it didn’t work that would be okay… I’d like to get a second shot on the Christmas candles.
  2. And next year we hafta hafta hafta to a Black Friday  offering.  It’s the cool thing to do and we must do it.
  3. I would like if humanly possible to get trained in OWL so I can do Adult OWL and invite the public.  I think it would be HUGE!   I was talking to our own members who had no idea that Gay and Lesbian issues would be covered.  This is something I need to share…
  4. I also have this wild fantasy that I will call everyone in the church I haven’t seen lately (or don’t know yet) and get to know them and bring them back in.   I hope I will fool myself and do that.   It will help with my work on getting the names all attached to the faces.  (See I’m in Fort Lauderdale, the city itself has high turn over and now with the economy being so especially terrible here and the foreclosure rate so high, we have high turn over and I have trouble talking myself into learning names that I will soon have to forget.  So I am working on my attitude and my memory both. )
  5. I also want to make sure that I blog the books I read so I can keep track.  Apparently I also need to log what I do just in case the wild fantasy of studying for the ministry ever comes to pass.  If I participate in ministry…

    This is altogether too much to ask as I have personal resolutions too (eat only when hungry, exercise daily)  and if I can wrap my mind around any of this…

Recycling Services

January 1, 2010

I’m not even a minister and I have already recycled service ideas.   I just get the feeling that they are not quite getting my point so I reformulate it and redeliver.  What are the limitations?  I was thinking that after a while a minister would have to repeat.  I wonder what good parameter would be?

I’ve got an idea

December 21, 2009

I want to create study guides for the books on the MFC reading list.  Now lets see what I get done..