Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Sky is Not Falling

This past weekend I went to more training. Fortunately Rick Rockhill made a comment that made me wonder why I was doing this. I've been stressed out. Anything that causes the grey hairs that I am sporting isn't worth it. Screw it. I'm doing the prison ministry for God, so to hell with what anyone says to me (in the training, not Rick who was right on target!) that hurts my delicate feelings.

I did a training at the prison and I broke out in hives afterward. Smoke glass does that to me and I didn't even see it--I just knew it was there. What was I thinking? My heart was bigger than my brain. I don't feel worthy to be with the group of dedicated women who are teaching the retreat. I know so little about Christianity and it's not my denomination, it's just that I feel as shallow as a bird bath.

Friends from church, once I announced what I was doing through our priest, have offered to help me with cookies. This is pretty cool. No, it's incredible. Twenty five dozen cookies are being made by friends on my behalf for the prison. In any church you need to ask for help from the priest or pastor before anyone helps you and that's normal.

The other thing that happened. . . because the TD was in the shop, I needed my husband to cancel his and the kids' plans and get me to the next city so I was without a car. I called him the next day when I found out that I needed to go to the prison to meet with the pastors for a training. I told him several times where I was, told him that his sister was near by, maybe see her or to wait in the parking lot for me and bring something to read.

The leader who drove me to the destination is hard to describe. Are tsunamis obnoxious or do they just have a lot of energy? Well, she was in a hurry to leave after the prison training and basically I couldn't get my stuff out of her car fast enough and I didn't want to be around her when she went into, "I don't have 12 seconds to spare. hurry-hurry"mode. When I called my husband he said he would wait for me in the parking lot, then right before I went out I called him and he said that he was up the road. He told me to just unload my stuff on the steps (I'd been out over night) and I stood with a suitcase, an art supply bag and a crock pot. After ten minutes, I started to worry and realized that my car phone was in the leader's car. After 30 minutes, I was in tears because people coming out of the prison walked right past me and didn't look at me when I asked to borrow their cell phones. I started to wonder if I was invisible.

The pastors came out and they did recognize me only after I asked if they could see me. . . you know, I really started to doubt my existence. I would not have been shocked if an ambulance had arrived and taken my body out of the facility. The only other time I have been avoided like that was when I was a mime. ;)

The pastors helped me reach my husband and the leader, my husband was an hour away. It was funny when I saw my phone and he had been texting me, "Answer your phone." "Answer your damned phone! Where are you?" "Do you have your phone?" "Did you say you were at the prison?"

After a half hour of coordinating, the pastors had to be someplace. They dropped me off at a restaurant and before I called Darrin, one pastor said to me that I had every reason to be angry with him, but that it was good for me to see what released offenders go through. I felt like an idiot on the curb being ignored, but I am not the first person to feel like that and I ultimately had a place to go. Had my husband been unable to get me, I had friends able to help get me home. (This is why you memorize several friends' phone numbers.) I cannot fathom being from a village being released in Anchorage and having to stay there because there are probation officers but no friends. The pastors said that sometimes inmates get released only to not have spouses pick them up (as planned) because they are living with someone else and have been for a long time.

It bothers me that I knew how I looked standing on that curb while I was standing on it, but didn't want people to think that I had been "one of them" and was then a released inmate. The pastors confirmed what I suspected that people were thinking. Why did I not want people to think that? Who cares? For several years I have wondered over the situation of people who have not even voting rights and how disenfranchised they are and I have mentioned it to lawmakers, but they never paid much attention to me on it. I have tried to present them in a good light, but I still felt furious at my husband for leaving me stranded. I am not better than they are, yet I was thinking pretty damned well of myself.

I worked what happened in to the speech I am giving about opening the door to God and letting God take His time. I have even painted a picture of myself standing at that curb in gouache to illustrate Matt. 6:26 "Look at the birds in the sky. They don't plant or harvest or gather food into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. You are more valuable than they are, aren't you?"

I am weird about Christianity. I doubt it constantly. I don't "know" it like CS Lewis seemed to know it. I do "know" that there is a God who created us and loves us, and I "know" this because Descartes said that just being able to imagine a being who created us is proof. I have a picture here of me and a few of my kids lighting candles. That night I must have lit 7 or 8 for different people and things. I like lighting candles because the represent so much-- the candle wax is us melting to God's will which is the heat from the flame, and the wick is our passion burning.

Yesterday I signed up for a drawing class. I only got a C in it last spring and I think that having no other classes I can put more in to it. I'd like to be able to speak through my art without needing to explain it. I would like for any one to look at my work and say the same things.

I got a message that my radio show is going to happen. The two interviews that I did are going on the air in several weeks. I of course have ten shows that I want to do next. I thought that my supervisor-mentor-friend just didn't like my voice, but instead he really was waiting. So exciting!

I will be off until possibly Sunday night,probably Monday. I have much to do.


James Thomas said...

Great post...

Thanks for your encouraging words!

Congrats on the radio show...

I'm trying the online video thing to get my voice heard...

..just posted a nice one on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in honor of Veteran's day. (you can see it on my blog)

All the best,

-James T.

steve said...

Tea, sometimes Christianity can be a little too heavy on belief. One of the strengths of Orthodoxy is that there's more emphasis on practicing the faith rather than believing. Both of our traditions use the Nicene Creed (though with a minor addition on my the Western side that proved an excuse for the Great Schism). The beauty of the Creed is that it's just the basics--you don't have to literally believe everything in the Bible. And there's wiggle-room even there. "Virgin," in its Latin root, can simply mean a young woman.

I think even Lewis had his doubts. It's the Christians who don't have doubts that I worry about. I don't worry about the faith of someone whose compassion has led her to prison ministry.

Ropi said...

My hair is slightly greying but stopped for a bit. When I have longer hair and you pay attention to my hair around my ear you may find few. My beard has some grey hairs too but they are visible only if I haven't been shaving for at least 5 days. That's why I shave in every 4th day. I should do more often but I just hate it.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Well done! And good on you for keeping things in perspective.