Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Where I'm At...

I know this title has wrong grammar, but I feel the need to explain "where I'm at" right now.

Sometimes you can feel the change a-brewin', and I think now is one of those times for me.  I can't explain it or put my finger on it, but I sense it.  Yesterday I rearranged the entire living room, rotated the rug, put the couch, loveseat, and two chairs in every possible configuration, before putting it all back where it started.  (It truly is the best arrangement, I just had to see if another one worked better.) I used to rearrange my furniture when each new semester started at school.  For some reason, it helped me with a clean slate.  I know that I'm about to have a clean slate because this urge is surfacing.  It seems superficial, but it points to a greater itch that I'm longing to scratch.

I've lived in this city for about 2.5 years now.  On the one hand, I'm very grateful for my job, without which I couldn't have moved here.  It's a beautiful campus, and one of the top research institutions in the US.  What I was hired to do is finally off the ground, for the most part, and about to enter into maintenance mode.  In my interview, they mentioned that this would be about a 3 year process.  That doesn't mean I'm out of a job at the end of those 3 years, but it just means that the nature of my job will change in the next few months.  I can sense that coming, and I'm open to other employment opportunities when that time comes.  Mainly, because I don't feel like I'd be leaving them in the lurch.  Secondly, because of the elusive work-life balance.  Since getting married, I really long to spend more time with my husband, to have kids one day, and to have a shorter commute.  Maybe it's not possible in this city.  Living closer to work would be financially impossible.  We live in the suburbs, and I commute.  But the commute is draining.  2-4 hours/day draining.  I'm not sure if working from home or working closer to home would be an option, but I'm open.

Speaking of work from a different angle, I wonder if I should stay where I am or look for employment in the arts again, the area of my training and education.  I do miss music, and having music in my life regularly.  I'm not sure what to do about that.  I have done some administrative work for a non-profit arts organization.  I have also performed a few times since moving here.  That has been gratifying.  I don't know if I should be seeking more or keeping it limited like this.

Spiritually speaking, I know that something is missing.  I have felt the call to more prayer and scripture study.  With my background, I struggle withe PTSD in relation to scripture.  (Seriously.)  It was beaten into us, sometimes literally.  I struggle with pride, thinking I know the Bible already.  But the truth is I only know one interpretation of the Bible.  I haven't studied it in-depth or allowed it to really resonate on a deep level since becoming Catholic.  Now, as a Catholic, we hear almost the entire Bible being read in the course of the 3-year Sunday liturgy cycle.  So, I have heard that probably 4 times now.  And, in our young adult group, we have studied topics or books of the Bible in-depth.  That has been very healing for me, to hear a new interpretation, to understand the Bible differently.

However, it's time now for me to study or read it on my own.  The only ways I can really hear the Bible without it being a traumatic/PTSD experience for me are 1) in the liturgy, or formally proclaimed by someone else, 2) in lectio divina - contemplative, slow reading, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me about specific passages or even one word in a passage, and finally 3) slow reading in my own voice, outloud. These three ways overcome the negative memories I have of the Bible being shouted at me in another person's voice, or being manipulated or flung awkwardly into conversation.  I feel called to do this, especially for the gospels.  We fixated a lot on the writings of Paul in my childhood religion.  Paul was almost more important than Christ himself.  The theology informed their reading of scripture.  I'm eager to read the gospels and see Jesus differently, in a real way, to hear his voice in a new way.  I know I need to do that with studying scripture on my own, and I'm ready for that now, I think.  As my husband reminds me, when something is difficult in scripture, you should spend more time with it, not less, until you have peace with the passage.  

As for prayer, I have always loved monasteries and silence and tradition, even as a child.  I love the fact the there are monks, nuns, and hermits who have dedicated their lives to pray for the world. However, I too feel called to pray.  Now, more than ever, I feel this call.  There are certain groups of people near to my heart:
     - my gay brothers and sisters,
     - ex-Catholics,
     - those who are searching for God and truth,
     - and those who struggle with sexual sin.

Maybe because I have seen the havoc that sexual sin can wreak, and experienced it myself...
Maybe because I cannot believe that the faith I had to fight for, every step of the way when I joined it, can so callously be disregarded and abandoned by those raised in it...
Maybe because I know the longing and confusion of searching for truth, searching for God, and knowing there is an answer, but not having the answer yet...

For these reasons, these specific groups of people call to me for prayer each time I think of them, and I know I must be more intentional about it.  Fasting, praying, doing the liturgy of the hours. Something must change, and I must answer the call to prayer.

Lastly, as far as spiritual matters go, I am really interested in Ignatian spirituality lately, "finding God in all things."  I learned so much about consolation and desolation from Fr. Timothy Gallagher.  Now I'm reading The Ignatian Guide to (Almost) Everything by Fr. James Martin.  This continues to speak to me, and it ties in so well with The Little Way.

Physically speaking, I'm on a de-clutter, organize, and minimalist kick.  I've read a lot about this lately, and I long for my home to be a place of peace with more routine for those nagging tasks.  This is a work in progress, but I am making progress.  I've also begun a lifestyle of eating little-to-no carbs.  Just in the last 2-3 weeks, this has made a huge difference.  Exercise continues to be a priority too, and I always notice a difference when I exercise regularly.

So, as for the life makover/overhaul, this is where I am at now.  Progress, not perfection, I remind myself.  I have made progress.  I have more ideas and inspiration.  I'm fighting the idea that someday I will "arrive" and have it all figured out.  I know lots of this is continual work, but I look forward to making some processes more automatic and simplifying so that it's not so overwhelming.

One step at a time.



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