Restarting a personal blog (hopefully shared) is more difficult than creating that first one, especially picking the name.
Early on in these prolifically blogging times, I too began recording my experiences following the rather abrupt and, it turned out, premature end of my later-in-life Unitarian Universalist ministerial career. Titled “On Sundays We Walk Our Dogs,” it was a weekly account of what it was like to be unmoored as a minister, without a place to show up. It was not incidentally also a chronicle of what it was and is still like to be a None, especially here in the South, a person with no regular faith affiliation, if any. I wrote about dog parks — naturally — and brunches, and drives in the rapidly vanishing country, and bumping into NASCAR fans at grits and ham dives. And how hard it was to have let go of my title and the edifice. How spiritually homeless I would often feel.
We were taught in seminaries and university theology schools not to label professional clergy work as such — a job requiring advanced degrees, lengthy required reading lists, internships, evaluations, credentialing committees. We were not asked so much as compelled to manufacture a Call narrative: how we came to discover our true selves as ministers or rabbis or other titles for religious leaders. Like Paul on the road to Damascus. Like Buddha under the tree. Maybe even the voices in Joan of Arc’s fevered brain.
I resisted as long and as best I could. But somehow I bought into the mantle of ministry mythos, a permanent new status, and walking away from the demands, the stress, the horrific commute was much harder than shaking off the dust of my previous jobs/careers: theater and film critic, public affairs and communications director, executive for righteous non-profits advocating for reproductive justice, for compassionate welfare policies, for early childhood and parenting education. After all, we distracted unsettled, entitled Boomers were due at least three vocational changes over our paid work lifetimes. Why should this phase be any different? It just was.
Nonetheless I left parish ministry. Or so I thought. Only to hold on to pulpit dates, ministers’ associations, consulting on small spirituality groups and faith in action programs. Within less than a year, I was back inside a much larger and much closer congregation that too often slips into calling itself a church. First it was very part-time, then acting, and then paid staff, versus a more traditional “calling” arrangement.
Seven years later, and seven years older, I once again have packed up my shelves of books on all manner of religious and spirituality history and practices and driven away.
This blog could just be a continuation of that original thread, the notion of Noneness. Or it could, and will be expanded beyond how Sundays are spent when not inside a sanctuary to record my fascination with and struggle with figuring out how to best use or simply use those arsenic afternoon hours between one and five all week long: What Shall We Do in the Afternoon? Focusing on idle time as just — hours to be spent in self-amusement — as a retiree, or at least semi-retiree.
But like so many other millions of us I am not ready to label myself that way, or perhaps any way. I am a Medicare and Social Security eligible woman of a prickly generation who finds herself, for now, untethered from a daily workplace with a biweekly pay check, and yet clings perhaps stubbornly or foolishly to an identity which has nearly always included both.
Besides being unchurched (or templed or synagogued) in America, let alone the Deep South, I am now a Boomer untethered from a traditional job and living thousands and thousands of miles from my children and grandchildren to boot: Grandparenting at Great Distances.
What ventures and adventures, what meaning and purpose do these hours and days, perhaps months and years hold? Not just on Sundays but all week long.
What doors are finally closing? What windows may be opening? These are tough, terrifying, and tempting times indeed.