Monday, July 23, 2012

It's All Right To Cry

I just finished reading Stephen King’s “On Writing.” I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in writing, not just because it gives lots of fantastic tools and suggestions, but because it is the most encouraging book on the subject that I’ve read. Whether you are an accomplished writer or just someone who wants to transfer something from your brain onto a blank piece of paper, King gives you permission to do it. “…you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

At the end of the book, he details the horrific accident he had in 1999. One day, around nine days after he enters the hospital, he finally gets up for the first time and walks three steps to the hospital commode next to his bed, sits there trying not to weep, and fails. He says “You try to tell yourself that you’ve been lucky, most incredibly lucky, and usually that works because it’s true. Sometimes it doesn’t work, that’s all. Then you cry.”

These three simple sentences pretty much sum up the last month for me. Yes, I lost my job. But there are several other people from the same company who lost their jobs recently as well, and frankly, I got a better deal. Even if that was only because I had been there longer and the severance policy is more favorable the more years you’ve been there, I’m probably in a better place than they are, at least financially. At least for awhile.

I’m blessed with a wonderful family who loves and supports me. I’ve learned that I am also blessed with amazing friends who love and support me. I am incredibly lucky.

And sometimes that’s enough.

I have things to do – painting our bedroom, working on my second draft of my book, volunteering at the church, searching the web for jobs. I’m busy enough. But sometimes all I can do is hang my head and cry. I don’t do that often, but it happens.

And today, when I was feeling particularly weepy, I was glad to find out that even the most accomplished of us get weepy too. Not that I’m comparing my unemployment to Mr. King’s almost life-ending accident. Don’t get me wrong – he wins that one hands down. But still, reading that line made me feel better about feeling bad. So maybe I’ll cry a little bit tonight. But I do know that I’ll get back to work after I'm done. I’ll probably go write something.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Eucharistic Prayer C

During the month of July, our church is using a different Eucharistic prayer than usual. For those who aren’t Episcopalian, the Eucharistic prayers are used to consecrate the bread and wine. We offer our thanks to God for His great gifts, and remember the life, death and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. There are four Eucharistic prayer options, all of which offer this thanks and remembrance, but each has its own language. (This is my own interpretation of these prayers - I'm sure a theology scholar has something much more substantial to say about them.)

One thing I love about the one we’re using in July (Prayer C, for anyone who is interested), is that it is much more interactive. Most of the other Eucharistic prayers are recited primarily by the priest but this one has lots of responses for the congregation to say. Prayer C also has some groovy language about God’s creation of “interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.” What a great summation of our world – the larger one that includes everything above and below, not just the fragile earth, with whose care we have been entrusted.

But my favorite part of the prayer is the language just before the Lord’s Prayer is said. “Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.”

How many times have I gone to worship and asked only for forgiveness, not for the strength to do God’s will? Many times, doing God’s will is hard – we must “love our neighbor” which doesn't mean liking everyone, but it DOES require treating others with respect and charity. Sometimes we have to stop to help someone with a flat tire, even if we’re in a real hurry to get home. Sometimes we have to forgo something we really want because it’s just the wrong thing to do or have, and we know it. Sometimes we have to listen to someone else's opinions without walking away in disgust. But frankly, sometimes it’s easier to sneak out of church without asking for that strength because if we ask for it, we must own the reasons we need it. If we say it out loud (or in our heads in prayer), we’re admitting to our weaknesses.

And how many times have I forgotten to seek renewal because I’ve been too much in the balcony (links to my first blog post ever about living in the balcony) – so engrossed in my day to day stresses and concerns for the other people who are counting on me that I neglect my own spiritual needs?  

God is not one-sided. God is not only the one who forgives us (or smites us, depending on your beliefs) when we confess those things for which we must ask forgiveness. God loves us – always – warts and all. Whether you believe that He has a specific plan for your life, or you believe that He gave us everything we need and is now silent, we might at least agree that God gives us the tools we need to succeed and be happy. And I know that the things I need for renewal are there for the taking. I just need to dip into the toolbox God has laid before me to find those things.  

Finally, at least for July, I’m going to try to remember the final words of the prayer: “Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.” Maybe I can worthily serve the world – or at least my little part of the world – in His name.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dreams of Flying

I had a dream last night that I figured out how to fly. I was also sort of magic, but the flying was the most awesome part. And it wasn't hard to figure out how to do it either – there was just one thing inside me that I had to tap into, and there I was, rising above the ground. It was fantastic!

I Googled “Flying Dreams” to find out what the dream meant. The website tells us that “If you are flying with ease and are enjoying the scene and landscape below, then it suggests that you are on top of a situation. You have risen above something. It may also mean that you have gained a new and different perspective on things. Flying dreams and the ability to control your flight is representative of your own personal sense of power.”

That’s interesting. While I am feeling more relaxed these days due to the lack of work-related stresses, there are many reasons why I’m also pretty worried and frustrated. First, of course, is the fact that I’m unemployed - that can be pretty stressful.

Even more stressful at this particular point in my life is that there are still some critical loose ends relating to my lay-off that I’m having trouble getting tied up. These are things that I would have expected a large company such as the one that gave me my “summer vacation” down to a science – insurance, paychecks, etc. Given the number of people who get laid off in any given year I figured that there wouldn't be any hiccups, but when Rick couldn’t get a prescription filled yesterday because apparently we have no insurance, I got a little bit panicked. I actually considered shelving a home improvement project, thinking it might not be a good idea to climb a ladder until I was sure I was covered.

So it is interesting to me that I had the flying dream last night of all nights. And I was flying with ease – once I figured it out I just lifted myself into the air. I used to have flying dreams a lot, but it’s been a long time, and I was glad to be back in the air.

I do believe that some dreams mean something, and taking the description of what this particular dream might have meant into account, I can see how I might have flown last night. I do have a new perspective on things. I’m applying for jobs almost every day, but I’m not limiting myself to advertising and marketing jobs. That’s really freeing for me, at least in theory. Whether or not I really have to replace my full income remains to be seen, and if I do, I might have to reconsider. But right now, I have the freedom to imagine myself in all sorts of jobs. I do recognize that this is a limited time offer – sometime soon I’ll either have a new job or I’ll be awfully worried about finding one quickly.

As far as feeling a sense of personal power is concerned, of that I’m less sure. Because I’m dependent on others to fix the issues with the terms of my lay-off, I don’t feel like I have much power at all, and I don’t like having to wait for answers on issues that that can affect my family's well-being.

On the other hand, there isn’t anyone who can boss me around but me. In that respect, I have all the power and I’m pretty happy with the way I’ve dealt with it so far. I’m searching job boards and applying for anything that strikes my fancy (and some things that don’t). I helped Sara rearrange her room and I've been blessed to have more time to spend with her and Hannah. I’ve peeled wallpaper and cleaned walls until my arms are sore, and tomorrow I’ll paint (obviously I decided to climb the ladder anyway). I get to choose how I’ll respond to my situation, and I choose to stay busy and positive. It’s not easy, and there are times when I wander around the house trying to figure out what the heck I should do. Fortunately that doesn’t happen too often, and I’ve been able to find something constructive to focus on.

I do hope that this stage of my life doesn’t last long though. But I hope that the flying dreams don’t go away once I’ve found a new job. If I’m lucky, I can work and fly at the same time.

One more thing about that dream. Tom Cruise was in it, and he was a terrible kisser. I wonder what that means?