Friday, February 3, 2012

Where ministry meets livelihood

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Yesterday was sandwiched between a traditional Bible study and a new women's group on astrology and archetypes. Could I have chosen anything more different? One is an ongoing study of Luke that my mother initiated in December with, mostly, retired women. I felt called to join because when else might I have the chance to do a Bible study with her? The other is lead by my wonderful and wise spiritual friend and I would sign up for anything she has to offer.

Though they seem like polar opposites, upon deeper inspection, I find they are not. Both are ways of figuring out who we are and what our purpose is. One centers on the word of God and the other, on what lessons the heavens, which God beautifully created, have for us.

Just a few months ago, I would not have envisioned myself either place.

I have struggled with the Bible, not being able to separate the rote and drilled-in meanings of Sunday School with what Scripture actually has to say directly and personally to me. I have experienced breakthroughs in practicing lectio divina (a slow and sacred reading of a brief passage) and when Conservative Friends practice an open-your-Bible-and-be-lead-somewhere study. The first two lessons of the current study actually turned me off with the amount of pure work in filling in the blanks and charts. I wondered what I was actually learning. But you know, it has stuck with me. What has been especially enriching is the perspective of each of the women. It's an eclectic, though not more diverse than Catholic and protestant, group of great faith and wisdom. When I have fallen into my old pattern of literal interpretation, they have reminded me of the beautiful metaphor and poetry of Scripture. And it has spoken deeply to me, reminding me I am called ... as we each are. It has helped me determine where, exactly, that is.

Astrology may as well be Greek to me. But, because it is so symbolic, I am drawn to this new language. Even just learning some very basics last evening and looking only at the patterns in our birth charts, I was amazed at how much I have experienced is affirmed and confirmed. For example, the arrangement of the planets at my birth creates a "splash" pattern, somewhat equally divided. My able instructor suggested it meant I was a "universal" person, a jack of all trades. She also included a description of my zodiac sign, Capricorn. The pattern and sign indicate I have may talents with a penchant for perseverance and slowly ascending to the top, a lonely trek. What it all helped me see in a very detached and clear manner is that I am often hung up on which direction to take because I am able to do differing tasks. Also, that even though I feel called to ministry, I can create a livelihood from it. That's pretty big stuff. We also learned about the meridian and hemisphere divisions. I tend toward the night, being more interior, slower to bloom and controlled by circumstance. However, I also have "daytime" planets, which means I can be extraverted, in charge of my own destiny to some extent and function in the social world. WOW.

I have been playing with all of these lessons, as well as those from last week's retreat, in figuring out my next move. I looked at potential studio/teaching space today and wonder where my ministry meets earning a living. Before today, I thought those were concepts that could not meet; even not sure they should. Today, I believe I can weave them together in creating a new life and calling, which blesses me and others.

WOW. I would not have gotten to this place without Scripture, astrology, last week's contemplative time, a lot of centering prayer, this week's activity, lots of friends and grace.

• When have diverse modes worked together to teach me?
• How do I open myself to new ideas and methods?
• What ministry may be swimming in my heart?
• How do I feed it?
• Where is my balance between ministry/retreat and vocation/work/activity?

learning about Jesus
from Luke at a long
distance from Sunday school
and in the company of
eager and wise listeners

shows me what is waiting
for me, if only I pay
attention and open
to what lies in my heart

oddly enough,
grounding that experience
is peering into the stars
to see my path, where
I've been and what choices
I now can, wisely, make

a heavenly marriage

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