Crash and Burn (or: Stop and Listen)

Well, it’s been crickets here at #seminarymama for a good long while.

Do you remember that post last summer when I talked about hitting my limit and letting go of some stuff, saying no to say yes?

That was cute.

Turns out I needed to learn that some more, and then some more again. Here’s the short story: I left my job as a children and family minister, missed a whole bunch of deadlines for school, got sick a bunch of times, and questioned just about everything in my life. I’m an achiever, and have been going turbo with graduate school, seminary, multiple jobs, internships, clinical chaplaincy, pregnancy and new motherhood, always working more than full time on emotionally intense, serious responsibility for about 8 years. No surprise, really. Turbo overachieving plate spinning works…until it doesn’t any more.

You know what I’m talking about? In recovery circles, this is what you call “unmanageable.”

I’m hoping to be done with the crash and burn for now, and am finding a lot more space for enjoying my son and partner, getting caught up on seminary work, and discerning what might be ahead next year. I got a Passion Planner for some organization, and I block out time for nothing.

And you know what’s just astonishing? There are all these things I had been missing and didn’t even know it. I have not been able to say “yes” to so many things that I love and value, and it’s like the minute I let the crash happen, I was reminded of what I hadn’t been making space for.

There’s space to make a lot more pancakes with S., even on weekdays sometimes, and read all the board books 15 times in a row without worrying about the other stuff I’m not getting done. There’s space to tell an overwhelmed mama friend to just come on over and have a tea and let the babies play while we talk. There’s space to journal and walk, to catch up with friends who live far away on the phone, to worship and pray in new ways. There’s space to rest as well as to stretch my soul and skills in ways I hadn’t considered.

To my surprise, an opportunity to say yes emerged in the fall and has sprung up in surprising ways. A series of conversations with my friend Michael led to the creation of Keep Watch with Me, the advent reader for watching and waiting and peacemaking. We decided to make the devotional that we had been waiting for on themes pertinent to the liturgical season and key in the struggles of our lives in the last while. We’ve been humbled and thrilled and freaked out to be joined in this endeavor by two dozen incredible contributing peacemakers and 5000 readers worldwide.

I’ll be posting today’s advent reflection, by yours truly, in a second post here, but in the meantime, if this piques your interest, you can sign up to receive daily reflections here, and join the “Keeping Watch Together” online community of folks reflecting and connecting here.

Podcasts for your heart

This month I’ve been in the car for three hours each day, driving to Sewanee for a summer intensive course in liturgical history. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this arrangement, but I would do it again in a minute just to be with my boys every night.

This is the most intensive period of solitude I’ve had since exactly a year ago, in the solitary waiting of those long last couple of weeks of pregnancy. With my solitude I’ve been praying and thinking, sipping coffee. With all that quiet, and in the tiredness of what can only be called a grind of driving and studying and squeezing in a little church work, the little questions and worries come. Almost every day it seems I am swinging in and out of doubt about this path to ordination. Luckily I have also been podcast binging, and have experienced that deep, rooting God peace in some of the wise conversations I have heard.

So here are my recommendations.

Today  I listened to this episode from The Liturgists from last fall, called “Woman”. It has one of the most beautiful expressions of the female lifespan in all its strength and fear I have ever heard in a beautiful poem from Lisa Gungor. It also tackles intersections of gender and race in a really thoughtful and compassionate way with Austin Channing Brown, and concludes with reflections from a lady pastor that just reminded me of the value of simply showing up in this embodiment and calling.
I do need to say that the episode veers into some transphobic territory, making intense comments about what bodies constitute “woman.” This is a growing edge for sure in this conversation and in the church and might not be a safe listen for all.

Last week I went down the enneagram, listening to The Road Back to You, a podcast based on the book by the same name by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile. Those two and the way they present this learning—what gems! This interview with Mihee Kim Kort, a Presbyterian minister and enneagram 7, moved me to tears. If you want to skip to that good cry part, start 20 minutes in, when Ian, Suzanne, and Mihee are talking about the church’s tendency to favor certain kinds of gifts and personalities in clergy, right when it most needs to be open to a diverse priesthood. Whooo, boy, was that ever the good news for me in this season of feeling disjointed and like I must be “doing this wrong.” But really, take the time for the whole set up to heard Mihee’s story and get more insight into the whole type, and check out other episodes while you’re at it.

What wisdom has been nourishing your call lately? Got any bedtime reading or car ride listening to recommend?