Monday, 23 May 2011

Tentative rejoicing

New spiritual director seems very good; she offered a balance of affirmation and gentle challenge that I think is what I need at the moment, and seemed to look at my life in a much more connected way than many people have.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Hey ho

Off to see new spiritual director this morning.

I hope this works out well.

...that's all, really.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Feeling vulnerable

I've been feeling tired, but also forlorn, petulant. Various things have been a bit different, the last few weeks. A dear friend has had no internet access and our usual frequent e-mails have been replaced by intermittent text messages. Teaching has been a bit fraught, with some worry over students doing exams, though I'm less concerned now. I went to mainland Europe for a wedding, and the travel was tiring. I'm behind, as always, on various bits of admin and paperwork, and feeling a little overwhelmed with it all. None of these things are major but they are all rather wearing, and the what-ifs have been creeping in.

A bit of time with pen and paper and I can see that large parts of my anxiety are linked to a sort of feeling of impending loneliness, of not wanting to be overlooked, left behind, brushed aside, abandoned. I'd like to be adored, special, cherished... and I harbour unrealistic hopes for what that means in terms of how others interact with me. I should have recognised this sooner; it turns up in a wistful feeling of "please don't go" at the end of every conversation. Stay with me, don't leave me alone, I think as loudly as I can while saying polite goodbyes. In short, I feel unreasonably clingy.

I am blessed with many people who care for me, love me, and show it. The reality is that with the best will in the world, these people don't have as much time for me as I might like, or as they might like.

Even while I understand that this isn't something to take personally, it still makes me feel uncertain, threatened, vulnerable.

How much of this is just egotism? Does it really matter whether I feel safe, if I'm doing what I am made for and helping others do what they are made for? Isn't some sort of risk always going to be there, whether I feel it or not? Isn't living life to the full, serving God in theist terms, worth any amount of risk, anyway?

But then, how much of this is that my hope of being loved, of being safe in God's love, has been something I have primarily experienced through the love of human beings? How much is a selfish demand for impossible security and how much is a yearning for that light of Christ which I do see in others (yes, even some of the atheists)?

I don't really know how to respond to this loneliness, clinginess, yearning. I can be honest, say "I'm feeling lonely and vulnerable and I don't really know why, please comfort me" and people will probably try. Of course they will! But it seems self-indulgent, somehow, to ask for that, even from Sweetie.

I can try to ignore these feelings but they'll surface some other way. The most damaging way leads to me trying to be someone I am not in order to please people. That kind of emotionally manipulative achievement is very seductive, but I know it doesn't really work. Is being aware of that dynamic enough to stop it happening? One reason I was so hesitant for so long about the vocation stuff is because I thought maybe this was me trying on some subconscious level to please or perhaps imitate some people I love and admire (which is absurd when you think about the rather long process of discernment in the C of E, but there you go).

This isn't constant or miserable enough to be a medical issue, I don't think. I've lived with mental illness before. I don't think this is it. I think this is well within the "normal" range of healthy human experience, whatever that is.

So what to do? Turn to God with it, spend more time in prayer, wait for things to change, hope something feels better soon? But prayer isn't something I do in order that I might feel better, even though it often does have that effect. What is the point of my petty nagging?

Even posting about this seems a bit over the top. It's late, too late for me really, and I'm tired. I'll say Compline, go to bed, have six or seven hours of sleep, get up in the morning and busy myself with the day. Life goes on. Fear is part of life, and I will be frightened and vulnerable and lonely at times but I will also rejoice in the smell of the rain, the sound of a 4-3 suspension, the words of a prayer. This yearning isn't some unending misery, it's just part of being alive. Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.

But I would still like to be less afraid, Lord. Sorry about the nagging, it's just where I am tonight I guess. If vulnerability is part of being alive, please give me the courage to live anyway. If my heart is going to be split open for fear of abandonment every time I admire someone, please make it large enough that I act out of love rather than for the avoidance of pain. If I must be hurt by people's imperfection or just by them having their own lives to lead, help me to see them for who they are (your beloved children, every last one) rather than for how they might hurt me. If I am to be someone who sees the provisional nature of all existence, the possibility of danger at every turn, make me someone who can see all of it as a loving gift. Put my worries and anxieties in perspective. Let my desire to act in love overcome my insecurity. There isn't really anyone else I can cling to.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

meandering update

Confirmation preparation is going well. A lovely grandfatherly priest in a neighbouring parish is helping me, since finding a suitable confirmation class turned out to be something of a non-starter. I have mixed feelings about that, as I think it would do me good to work with a small group rather than individually, but I'm not unhappy.

I was to read a book, a rather dry book I must say, with various World Council of Churches statements from just after it was formed throughout the remainder of the last century, on a certain topic. I read it, and thought about it, and on Thursday I met Grandfatherly Priest for a chat. He liked my approach to the subject (which is a specialty of his). I told him about the vocation stuff (see, I don't think that would have been possible in most classes) and that was an incredibly useful conversation, too, affirming while recognising the difficulty of my position. I'm still trying to figure out how musicianship fits into this; I can't not be a musician any more than I can stop breathing, you see, and most clergy I know have precious little time for anything other than their parish work. He was keen to stress that ordination doesn't mean being a vicar, that being called to preside is not the same as being called to serve a parish. But he also told me it was Good News. I swear I could hear the capital letters. What can I say? I hope to bring good news, Good News, Gospel, regardless of my official ecclesial status. If that means being the Good News I will try, though I know my own efforts will be imperfect. I think all Christians are called to that.

We had rain today. Not enough, I don' t think, but we've been a month without which is very strange for London in April. The vegetable garden will be glad of a proper drink rather than me hobbling around with a watering can. You make the rain fall and the wind blow.

I've been feeling really tired again. Politics are depressing me. Yesterday I cooked an elaborate household meal, which went very well. Today I was terribly short with Sweetie; the old habit of pushing at the boundaries because I'm afraid of being abandoned still crops up, when I'm tired enough. I wish I were a gentler person, less inclined to be critical, less inclined to remind people of their mistakes when I'm feeling vulnerable. He is more patient, more forgiving, and has been lovely to me all day, even when I was upset.

We are away for a few days next week which I think will help.