Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jumping off the roller coaster

Jumping/pastel on paper

Listen to post:

My dreams focus on money, two in the last two weeks, in fact ... the only ones I can remember. My heart calls one way, to ministry, and my head, the other, toward earning a living. It's also the dilemma of having a sun in Capricorn, the grounded, loyal worker and a moon in Pisces, the watery, ethereal creature who prefers to live within the heart. Of being spiritual and practical. Of being contemplative, but wanting to act. Of having a mind that wants to accomplish NOW and a body that requires daily tending. Of living outside of the norm and embracing that.

In my practice of gratitude and abundance, I have been viewing my personal abundance as seeking and receiving grants [for rent and supplies] for Artsy Fartsy, the arts exploration ministry I do for under-served local kids, and through my husband's business. It is not an easy place for me. I want to earn my own way, but I have limitations. The fibromyalgia has pretty much wiped away a traditional career. I also had my kids later and they still need me. I am not ready to abandon them.

I write this blog as an outlet, to share myself with the hope of nurturing others and speaking to their condition, to keep my skills up and, hopefully, to aid in the time when I publish a book. I've intentionally kept the space free of clutter and ads, but seriously wonder if I should consider it as a source of income. Maybe add a donate button, but, sometimes that sounds tacky.

For 12 years, I've facilitated small groups, workshops and retreats. Once I was paid an honorarium.  I've had some good stints at longterm freelance writing/marketing jobs. But, not in awhile. I tend to forget that I had successful careers as a journalist and in corporate marketing BK  and BF [before kids/fibro].

I have a book I've put my soul into, and even taught from. It's been put away to season. I keep thinking it's time to take it out again. In a funny way, it's morphed into the work I am currently doing.

All of these things have been buzzing in and out of my brain for some time. I haven't really paid them much attention. Until Sunday,when the message in worship focused on the Quaker tradition of unpaid ministry. Our minister, who is paid, struggled with that. Unpaid, I struggle with it as well. That option worked in a time when the faith community supported its ministers and an agrarian society supplied dormant periods for ministry.

Years ago, after a wonderful retreat on stewardship at our Meetinghouse, the facilitator's words that we should be supporting individual ministries kept ringing in my heart. For months. Until, when the congregation easily agreed to spend a large sum on new windows, I couldn't contain myself. "What about supporting ministry?" I was compelled to ask publicly, not really meaning my own, which was unformed then. The community responded, over time, by dedicating an endowment with just that mission. 

For some reason, I haven't applied for my Meeting's funds for Artsy Fartsy, though two other Quaker organizations, including the one to which that wise retreat facilitator belongs, have funded my work. Ideally, I want someone to fund me, my salary.

A few years ago, during a clearness committee, a Quaker process of listening to where God is working when an individual seeks discernment on a specific issue, I said that out loud. I got no response. Silence is pretty standard among Quakers.

I think I knew then that I was supposed to ask my faith community to financially support me. Only it wasn't time yet. This inner struggle is pushing me in that direction. I am afraid, however, of asking. Afraid of the cold silence as a response. Afraid that I won't be judged worthy enough. Afraid of a negative answer. They have been generous with supplies and time, really anything I for which I have asked.

One of my dreams revolved around my father telling me he didn't approve of or understand my working so hard for no financial gain. The other was a conversation with one of my models of faith, a deceased aunt. She and I were chatting about her career as an opera singer/teacher and how easily money had come to her. She made it sound like it works that way for everybody. The comment filled me with doubt and I said that was not my experience.

I have to confess I recently applied for a job, one that I would have loved when I lived in the regular work world. I was upfront about not having full time flexibility.  It's just so clear to me that I need to work, but on terms that work for me.

I keep thinking about the congregational query in Sunday's bulletin: 
How do we live in solidarity with those who are called into a ministry that demands their primary focus and makes paid employment challenging?

• What splits me apart?
• How do I reconcile my work life and my spiritual life?
• How do I join them?
• What about others for whom traditional work is not an option?
• How can I take my work role into my spiritual life?

on the roller
coaster of the
regular work
week for a long time

no big deal,
just what you did

until you
couldn't –
for some reason

the dilemma

if you're not
jumping back on

and are called

how do you
do that
with integrity?

and what do
you do in
the interim?

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