Saturday, April 26, 2014

the next round

Gearing up for the next round, y'all. But more and more, the question for me, and all the other folks in similar situations, is: how long do you hold out hope of landing that thing known as a "real job," that thing with salary and benefits? That pays enough that you can actually afford to do it, and afford the corollary expenses that come along with doing it, like childcare and takeout and help with the house? With an office you don't have to share with three others who probably wouldn't appreciate staring at those pics of your kids you set up on the desk, so they get put away at the end of your scant office hours? With colleagues? With time to research and write and publish?

I'll be honest. I've thought about alternatives. There are a couple problems with that. One is, my only other marketable skill sets are waitressing and having babies. The other is, I really, really love both my subject, the art of teaching, and the act of writing. I love the classroom--undergrad, grad, philosophy, theology--all of it. And I'd like to write another book.

And let's be honest, too, that putting 7 years into a degree, and then walking away from all that it means to you, is just a difficult thing to do, in terms of your sense of self.

So. Here I am, y'all. Exhibit JTB of the adjunct problem in academia.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Waiting: an out-of-season Advent homily (reflections on World Convention)

And I stood, waiting while the circle completed itself and everyone, in turn and by name, received the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. And in the waiting was a blessing equal to the blessing received in the gift.

In that attentive stillness, it struck me that I was quite simply at peace. I was not in a hurry. I was not thinking about what came next. I was not thinking of what I should do or not do, or what I should be doing while I waited or if people were looking at me while I waited or what they were thinking while they waited. I was quiet inside, an unusual thing for me, and that quiet seemed to have reached in from the outside, where we waited on each other.

In this quiet chapel was a group of people from all over the world, who had spent two days talking, thinking, praying, dreaming and planning together. They had been strangers to me, but in this moment of sharing and waiting in the ritual which brings Christians of all traditions together, I realized that I belonged here in this room.

Born and raised Church of Christ from Cradle Roll to college, there have been many times that I have felt alien in my church. Sometimes it has felt like a wound, but I have learned how to live with it. Don't put pressure on the spot; move carefully; be wise, be cautious, be diplomatic, be circumspect; make sure you take the hits that come somewhere else so they don't hurt too bad, and turn the other cheek. It's become normal, this mode of faithfulness to my church.

But in this room, I belonged. In this room, my wounds were cherished as much as my gifts. In this room I was welcome. In this room, I was waited on.

The Churches of Christ have always been a part of something larger than themselves--all churches are--even if we have worked hard to ignore it, at times. In this room full of people from all over the world, from all the branches of the Restoration movement, celebrating our unity and common history and anticipating a future together, I felt for the first time in a long time that I was glad, deeply glad, to have grown up in this particular expression of Christianity, this peculiar, rational, contentious, deeply faithful bunch of God's people.

So I cried a little bit, and that was okay.

And then it struck me: we were not simply waiting on each other, but God, too is waiting on us. We make space and time to sense it in the celebration of Communion, but it is constant. God is waiting on us--though most often we think we are waiting on God. We say to each other, "those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint," and it is true; but God, too, waiting and watching and hoping and anticipating as we learn to embrace each other in the unity of the Spirit.

I am so grateful in this moment for the work that the World Convention (Christian-Churches of Christ-Disciples of Christ) has done in the many years since its founding, the work that we are preparing to do in the future, and the gift of belonging that I received so unexpectedly in that Communion with my sisters and brothers from around the world.

Unity is a mysterious gift, rooted in the very life of God: created in the same image, saved by same Savior, gifted with the same Spirit, we are indeed one, in ways that surpass recognition, assent, doctrinal agreement or even volition…and for this I give thanks and praise. Amen.