There is this weird tension in the pastoral life. It’s a tension that I’m never really sure I’ll know how to navigate — but it’s an important tension to me. It’s one that I was able to clearly identify yesterday when I saw the sitemap for the congregation’s new website. In this proposed sitemap, there would be a blog for the Associate Pastor and another blog for the Senior Pastor.
In my previous blog, I blogged for the church. I told stories about the church I serve. I reflected and narrated based upon my experiences in my pastoral ministry to this congregation. And yet, it has become clear to me that I need to differentiate. I need to create a space that is about me and how I am choosing to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I began by creating this blog. I reminded myself of this choice when I asked my colleague how it would feel to share a Minister’s blog on the newly forming website.
For me, this is an important distinction. It’s a boundary — not a boundary about which my colleagues would get hopping mad but one that I hold sacred. It’s a boundary for me to know when I am the pastor and when I get to be that other person (the one that never shows up in church.) It’s a fine point that may indeed be lost on many people — but there are ways that I’m trying to be a person of faith that have nothing to do with the people I serve. I bring my faith into their midst. I tell those stories. I share my insight but there are explorations I hold that are completely mine and shouldn’t bear the name of the church that I serve. Sure. It could but it’s truly exhausting to always be an ambassador of a particular faith community. Sometimes, I just want to be Elsa.
What does being Elsa mean? Well, that’s what I mean. I need to create space to figure that out. I need space where I am not the pastor to figure out what it is that is working in me. There’s another young clergy woman that is doing a similar thing on her blog. I relate so much to these words — as we each write to figure out what this means to be a disciple that doesn’t fall victim to all of the horrible statistics about clergy. (The New York Times article this summer was old news to me.)
So, yes, it means writing but it also means that I need to pray.
This takes me a long time — and it’s a practice that’s only one year old. Still, I’m trying to pray in the morning. (I hate mornings.) I’m slow in the morning but I find if I wait until the evening, it just doesn’t work. I like how starting with prayer and coffee allows me to ruminate all day. I like this space even though I take my time getting out of bed. I sip my coffee like it’s literally the nectar of the Trinity. And then, I pray.
I curl up with my Bible, my prayer book and my colored pencils. This is the language of my prayers which is actually highlighted in this month’s Christ and Creativity on The Young Clergy Women Project’s publication Fidelia’s Sisters.
It works for me. It’s a way for me to express who I am in the world right now — but it’s very personal. It’s not the time I pray for other people even though I was inspired by Sybil MacBeth’s Praying in Color. It’s a time that I pray for myself. It’s a time that I explore where God is working in my life. Truthfully, we all need this. It’s not just a reminder to clergy. It’s a reminder to all of us that get lost in the details of life — but that’s the pastor talking. That’s the part of me that wants to teach this to others. That’s the part of me that wants to inspire others with what I’ve discovered in the weird and wonderful epiphanies I’ve found in colored pencil. That’s not what I need. Not now. Right now, I’m trying to focus on Elsa. I’m trying to pray for myself.