31.

It’s been some time since I’ve written here.

I’ve gone and made it to 31 years old, quite in spite of every indication to the contrary. This was one of the busiest years of my life but I daresay one of the most important years of my life all the same.

Here’s a run-down of everything that happened:

  • In October 2018 I attended the State of the Art Astrology Conference in Buffalo, New York. It changed my life. On the final morning of the conference my grandmother fell at her home in North Carolina. Given that she was 92 years old I didn’t expect that she’d make a full recovery, and this proved true on the following new moon. I wrote about it here.
  • In November 2018, I offered an ancestral feast for the first time on All Saints/All Souls, beginning a newfound love affair with my blessed dead. On the Thursday following, my grandma died. A week later my beloved and I spent nine car-sick hours in a car with our dog winding our way down US-58 to attend her funeral in Danville, Virginia. The funeral homily was a full-on fire-and-brimstone affair, preached by a family friend. Michael and I were both shaking by the end of it.
  • In December 2018, my daughter spent Christmas with us. I made a conscious decision to begin being slightly more open about all aspects of my life and ministry after a come-to-Jesus meeting with a trusted friend who encouraged me to “let my light shine.” (It meant I’d actually say ‘I’m a pastor and an astrologer’ out loud when people ask.) We also spent some time with Michael’s family-of-choice in Memphis.
  • In January 2019, I was elected to the steering committee of the Association for Astrological Networking. During the final week of the month, I left my job after the congregation I was serving decided—without my knowledge or input!—to rescind their status as an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ. I also found out that they were rejecting LGBTQ candidates for the settled position out of hand (I was an interim). I have never left a job without first lining something else up in my life. This was the first time I ever did so, and it was tremendous, fearsome, right—and my choice had the full support of my judicatory. (I hope it’s the only time I ever do so.)
  • In February 2019, I was offered another call at a congregation in another part of the country. One of the search committee members referred to undocumented migrants as “those illegals” and complained loudly about how homelessness was ruining San Francisco. I turned the call down. By some miracle I began to be able to support myself—by the skin of my teeth—on income from my consulting work. I did my damnedest to be faithful. (God certainly was.)
  • In March 2019, I worked my ass off. At one point I saw five (five!!) clients in a single day, which is a ton of mental and emotional energy. Jailbreak the Sacred found its way to me and so I learned how to host, record, and publish a podcast. The kiddo spent her spring break with us, and I decided I’d spend my in-between time at the Episcopal congregation I did my seminary internship at. It was time well-spent.
  • In April 2019, two very interesting things happened: the week following Easter I had a lucid dream in which I was teaching in Japan in Japanese, and a tangle of synchronicities pointed me further in that direction. I began learning Japanese again in earnest after piddling around with it as a weeaboo sixth grader. The second thing that happened was a mystical experience while at a cabin at the Red River Gorge with my beloved that cracked open my world in ways I had never anticipated. Oh, yeah, I also started writing a book.
  • In May 2019, I began learning all 2200 常用漢字 (joyo kanji)、the 2200 Chinese characters that Japanese high school students are expected to know by the time they graduate. I also got a book deal for a book entirely unrelated to the book I had started writing in April. I finished Book One and started immediately on planning for Book Two. I also attended the Northwest Astrological Conference (NORWAC), made some wonderful new friends and industry connections, and began planning my next professional steps. I was also hired as the sabbatical replacement minister for one of the most incredible churches I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and serving.
  • In June 2019, my daughter came for her summer visit with us; she’s now completely hooked on Pokemon, which means that we’re doing our job well. I finished and submitted the manuscript for Book Two, viz. the one that will be coming out on January 7th of next year. My job at Union began during Pride Week.
  • In July 2019, we visited my family in Virginia for a week, and then returned to Lexington. I kept on learning Kanji and wrote a research paper for a conference journal—which conference has now been postponed. July was otherwise unremarkable except for the fact that I stopped going to the gym due to being completely burnt out with my lifting routine. Time for something different.
  • In August 2019, I premiered a piece of music at church and had an utter come-to-Jesus moment with regards to my financial health. I opened a Roth IRA! I made a conscious spending plan! I also began re-training my entire body for bodyweight fitness and calisthenics. I feel better than I have in a long time as a result.
  • In September 2019, I finished learning all 2200 kanji (their semantic meanings and writing, anyway). I also returned to editing Book One after putting my podcast on hiatus for the time being. On the final Sunday of this month I’ll have another premiere of a new work, this time by the combined forces of the church choir and our local college’s choir.

This is a very “tell” instead of “show” post but after having written close to 150,000 words in other forums I’m not really pushing myself to make this blog post a literary masterpiece. Let the record show that my life is full and that I’m wildly, wildly happy.

 

in the indicative

I’m just past the threshold on the opposite end of a long, dark tunnel. The light hurts my eyes. And like a puppy who was abused freshly brought to a caring home at last, I find myself learning to trust, learning to not be afraid of the passing shadows or sudden noises that pervade typical life. When will the other shoe drop in this newfound place of peace and comfort? More terrifying, what if it doesn’t?

For once I am not in crisis mode, as I have been since, oh, 2009. Part of this is simply growing up and entering into a deeper sense of self. Part of this is abandoning the toxicity of a religious imagination that only valued me inasmuch as I could be something I wasn’t. And still part of this was getting out of the situations that held me in thrall to crisis-as-normative.

But there is now a new normal, and the task before me is to learn how to live not out of fear of an imagined shoe-drop but rather to live in contentment and contemplation of the way things have turned out, aware and open to deep joy and acceptance of the things that are. To no longer live in the subjunctive. To give my poor beleaguered limbic system a break.

To wit, I stand on the other side of a series of difficult interactions, decisions, and circumstances that have consumed the bulk of my twenties. Before me there’s a vast expanse of an open field-forest-mountain-range-vineyard laying before me (oh Shenandoah!) and now there are four demesnes that beg my attention—I would lavish it upon them.

I will lavish it upon them, given that I’m now living in the indicative.

I. Relationships. To myself, to the divine, to my family first and foremost. Renewing, strengthening, and propelling my bond to my daughter as she becomes more and more an individual (six going on sixteen, help Lordt). Forging deeper and tighter cables of love for my partner as we prepare for marriage. Cultivating understanding and growth with members of my family system. Inviting friends to dinner. Deploying periphrastic phrases will-he nill-he to make a rhetorical point.

But these chains of love and friendship are the very backbone of my existence as a functioning adult, or so I proclaim. It’s time to square proclamation with the reality of things.

II. Household. Frankly, it’s time to get my financial shit together. I have a pipe dream of somehow, some way, completing an additional graduate degree in the human services—because I’m a masochist, that’s why—and I can’t responsibly do that until, at the very least, my consumer debts and other financial obligations as they stand now are taken care of. I’m working a dream job with phenomenal opportunities for growth, so I have no reason not to do this. I’m even more beholden to the stewardship piece of spiritual development given that I now actually have something to, you know, steward.

III. Creativity. Not only have I neglected this space for too long, I’ve also been neglecting a major part of my soul, to wit, music. Ideas for this opera or that sonata or this dance suite have been kicking around in my head unabated but I’ve lacked either the presence of mind or the energy or the sheer chutzpah to make those ideas become a reality as I hammer away at the block of silence in my workspace.

At the same time, too, words make their way to the fore and fall unrealized into the fulminating abyss of ever-present distraction. Oh Blog, how I love thee! And yet how I have drawn distant, or worse, navel-gazey (and I’m doing that right now, flagrantly). I’d been starving Euterpe* and Erato** for the sake of paying too much attention to Melpomene’s*** call to self-loathing and self-limiting. Such shouldn’t be the case, given the need to practice creation is as much a part of my existence as the need to breathe oxygen. Forgive me, muses.

Though, admittedly there is space for grace here—there’s good reason one in constant crisis can’t be creative. Now my muses can breathe again.

IV. Contemplation. This is perhaps the most crucial to the whole process: learning not to live in the future or the past, but simply in the present, aware of how the world is throwing itself at me, screaming to be observed and appreciated and contributed to in the sheer raw realness of the moment.

For this is not something to be tacked on as an addendum, but a modality through which everything else must be filtered. All exists because in the loving inclination of the Universe’s engine of joy, everything belongs.

And in that I claim that while I cannot live in the future, I am shaped by its unbounded goodness; by the same token, I am not beholden to my past despite having been brought to this place by my very journey through it.

Indicative. Present. Presence. And all is yet grace.

*the muse of music
**the muse of lyric poetry
***the muse of tragedy and emo MySpace pics