The weekend was topsy turvy. But there is a 70% chance of good news this week.
When I was a full time parish pastor/priest, I experienced on a weekly basic something I called The Sunday Evening Come-down and The Monday Morning Let-down. The Sunday Evening Come-down was my body’s natural response to pushing out all the energy I used in the Sunday morning experience of worship and preaching and fellowship. The Sunday Evening Come-down was characterized mostly by fatigue and a sense of being spent on a job well done. I would often sleep in the early evening of Sunday.
By contrast The Monday Morning let-down was more of an emotional response. I would wake up on Monday and the distance to the next Sunday felt like forever. When The Gift is in use it produces a sensation of deep joy for me. On Monday morning I woke up knowing that it would be a long 6 days before that joy would be mine again. On top of that, Monday was my day off and I did nothing church related. So I frequently felt a bit lost on those days. I didn’t like Monday mornings.
Nowadays I’m no longer a full time priest, the Monday Morning Let-down is actually worse. Now after the Sunday worship experience I awake on Monday to face five days of doing work that brings me no joy and feels unconnected to my vocation.
Today, the day after Easter, The Monday Morning Let-down feels even worse than usual. I had the greatest Good Friday of my life, followed by being with the people of Ascension as we kept vigil on Holy Saturday, followed by the joyful eruption that is Easter Sunday. Now I’m pulling on my work clothes and getting ready to go an operate printers in a print production warehouse.
In all honesty, today I’d rather not go. However if I didn’t go I’d sit in a pool of self-pity all day. So it’s best that I rise up and go to a place where at least the day’s work will bring money. Even if it isn’t fulfilling, it’s financially fruitful. So God be praised for the blessing of job.
Friday night I had a remarkable experience. Normally Good Friday would find me at an Episcopal congregation. This one however did not. Instead I was at Grace Presbyterian Church in Madronna for the Liberation United Church of Christ’s Good Friday service.
I was one of seven trans people who were invited to speak on one of the words of Jesus from the cross. As speakers we were asked to speak on our assigned text from a trans perspective. Of the seven of us three were Asian Pacific Islanders, two were black and two were white. Of the seven, only one had grey hair (yours truly). Of the seven only one was ordained (yours truly, again). I was struck/saddened/embarrassed/dismayed by the fact that I am a rarity in a community of rarities.
However on Good Friday I was one of seven speakers who were celebrated and embraced, just for being ourselves. I’ve walked down the aisle of a church many times at the start of a service. But this was the first time I’d ever had an assembly rise up and clap and hoot and holler and whistle at the start of a service. This was the first time I’ve ever walked in a procession giving high fives as I entered. It felt more like a college basketball game with the home team taking the floor than it did like the start of a Good Friday liturgy.
The speakers spoke from their experience and it was moving. One speaker in particular got my attention. Vic (full name Victory) brought their baptist upbringing to the event. They started out by “giving glory to God and honor to the pastor of this church” and went on to quote Scripture and had us “turn in your Bibles to…” Their words were prophetic and like the prophets of old those words stung and hit home. Vic calls Tacoma home. Interesting, in that I too will soon be calling Tacoma home.
I had the seventh word of Jesus, “It is finished.” As I had only a short time to speak I jumped directly to my main point: Jesus, doing what God has given him to do and facing the death-dealing powers head on, takes an activist stance and calls it all to a halt with his words. I went on to say our call is follow Jesus and face the death-dealing powers of our day and age, calling injustice and oppression to a halt. I reminded the assembly that Easter is coming and that we face Good Friday pain with resurrection power. My proclamation: life triumphs over death. Love trumps hate.
I have never had such a response from an audience. They were totally with me, to the point where my words were interrupted with long applauds and loud AMENs. The Gift was on and it was at full power. In the moment I was a channel for the Spirit to do her thing. In the moment all I felt was determination to bring it home and say what God had given me to say.
After each speaker spoke their feet were washed. So I also I took a seat and my feet were washed. In the action I realized that I had served by using my gift and now I was being served in the foot-washing. I was taken to Maundy Thursday and reminded of Christ’s call to serve as he served.
At the end of the service a statement was read which was a call to the church. The statement is titled: Christian Solidarity with Trans Women of Color. One paragraph reads:
As we hold ourselves accountable, we also, in the Spirit of Christian community, ask the greater Church not just to welcome trans persons of color into our congregations, but to take a bold public stance in support of these particular children of God who are under particular threat. We publicly call on the mainline and progressive LGBTQ affirming community of Churches to repent from their systemic racism and transphopia in these ways:
What followed was a list of action items that was both broad and deep. As I heard the list I could not help but think of how my own church is (and isn’t) measuring up to it.
As I drove home I realized that I had had a resurrection experience. I was named and celebrated for being trans. I felt validated, esteemed and valued by a community of people who didn’t know me personally. I needed resurrection because some things have happened this week that felt like a kind of death. Yet in one night I passed through the entire Triduum. I’m already in Easter, just waiting for the the Church to join me liturgically. Fortunately, my wait is a short one.
Rents in Seattle have been skyrocketing and the heat from the rockets is being felt in the surrounding areas. That includes the city of SeaTac where my family and I currently reside. Rent in our neighborhood has gone through the roof and we cannot remain in house we are renting. That is a shame because it has suited us down to the ground for this year.
And so, like animals being driven south by a fierce winter, we are forced to look south for affordable housing. We must consider our family’s needs, our budget and proximity my workplace. Where can housing be found that meets these criteria? Tacoma: The City of Destiny–and apparently our destination city.
I am disappointed. I have nothing against Tacoma. I suspect that we will do as well there as anywhere else. The bitter pill to swallow is the effect the move will have on the ties we have made in Seattle. I will only speak of myself at this point. I had hoped to return to parish ministry at least part time. I plan was to maintain a job in the world and have one in the church and I had hoped to serve a church in the Seattle area. Now I don’t see how I can be meaningfully involved in the life of a parish when I’d be there part time and on top of that live over an hour away. Outside of doing supply priest work in Seattle, I fear that I must let my plan of doing ministry there die a respectful death.
I’m a resilient person. I’ll get to that place where I’m ready to turn my ministry eyes elsewhere but not today. Today, in the twist on the words of Seals and Croft, I’m gonna…
Ride a little. Hide a little. Close my eyes and sigh a little. Guard my mind and cry a little.
Usually this expression means that a person is extremely careful about small amounts of money and not careful enough about larger amounts of money. The result is that person’s financial situation becomes worse even as they are trying to make it better. In my case there is a twist on this saying.
I have been doing my best to be careful with way I spend money because I have financial obligations beyond myself. As a result I’ve been cutting out as much spending on myself as I can. I dropped a number of things including my Weight Watchers membership. I figured I could get on well without WW because I had learned how to eat better and thus I could manage my weight without spending the money. However what has happened is that my weight has skyrocketed since leaving Weight Watchers. It’s true that I’ve saved pennies every month but I’ve also packed on the pounds. Thus I’ve been penny wise but pound foolish.
So over the weekend I made the decision to return to Weight Watchers. After all it’s been the only tool that has worked for me. I need it and therefore I’ve committed to paying for it. When I sat down and reviewed my budget I was surprised to find a spot where I can cut my spending. It’s a simple grocery item that will save me $8 a week, thus paying for the monthly pass.
Yesterday at about 1pm there was a loud “ka-clunk” sound. No one heard it but me because it happened inside my head. That’s the sound my biological hard drive makes when my processor has completed the work of organizing and analyzing a huge data dump. The lights went on and I saw the big picture of how to do my job. The little pieces that I was being fed finally congealed into a understandable whole. I suddenly knew what I was doing.
I felt like Dr McCoy in that episode of Star Trek when he put on the teacher and suddenly understood how to restore a dismembered brain. The information comes into his brain so fast that it is painful at first and he falls to his knees. Then he raises his head, he marvels at the clarity and says, “A child could do it.”
That’s how I felt yesterday. That part of me that worries about not understanding things went back to sleep. That part of me that delights in manipulating machines, solving problems and completing tasks is now wide awake. I still have a good bit to learn but I essentially understand the work. The rest is now adding details.
By the end of the day, I was told, “You’re doing so well in your training that we’re going to move on to train you in a new task: large format printing.” That will be today’s work.
I’ve been meeting a lot of people in my first days at my new place of business. Without intending to, I’ve developed a standard line about who I am. I refer to myself strictly by what I do at the company. I say things like, “I’m Carla. I’m the new person in digital. I work swing shift.” Beyond that I find myself getting a bit evasive. I say precious little about my story outside of those basic workplace facts.
At the same time I’m aware that there is a back story being told about me. That story is: Carla is from Providence. Providence closed its print shop. Wright is taking over the printing for Providence. Carla is the expert on all things Providence.
That back story is essentially true, except for the part about me being an expert on all things Providence. I understand how Providence works. I know more about their printing habits than anyone else at the plant. But expert? No. Yet I find that I will need to become that. I have already been crowned “Providence Digital Press Point Person.”
I have been formally assigned to the team that is working on Providence print materials. We have team meetings once a week. Meetings? I don’t like meetings. When someone says “meeting,” my anxiety level instantly goes from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON 3. One of the perks of being a peon at Providence was that you didn’t have to go to meetings.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that when you have more than three people on a team you need to have meetings. I’ve just never been a fan of them. However like my ol’ friend Rumpole of the Bailey, I’ll go to the chambers meetings in order to preserve the best traditions of the bar.
I like that there is a strong emphasis on doing our best for the customer. I defiantly connect with that attitude. I like the “can do” spirit I see at Wright. I am drawn by the casual comradery of the place. There is an ease about the place that shows a refreshing lack of micro-management. How people dress and talk indicates a realness that is also good to see.
At the same time I’ve had glimpses of the company culture and of the workplace environment that stand as signs of caution for me. I have questions, a lot of questions: Is this a safe place to be a GLBTQ person? What is it like to be a person of color here? Is there an underlying political orientation to the place? If so what is it? Is there a general attitude toward religion? If so what is that attitude? Where does leadership sit on these questions? I’ve heard the phrase “family company” used. What does that mean? I’m an INFP. What is my N telling me about this place? What’s the big picture here? How does this fit into the grand scheme of my life? What is God’s paln around all of this?
This is what sucks about being an N. This is what wakes me up at 1:30am and keeps me up until 4:30am. In an hour and a half my grand nephew will wake up and the morning will officially begin.
Gott im Himmel, what a life!