I’ve been thinking about this blog post for awhile now but keep coming back to the same thing – what am I really going to say after what’s happened in the last few months? This blog has seen me through some interesting adventures – exploring ordination, becoming an abortion doula, quitting a doctoral program to enter a PhD program, having my best friend casually rip my still-beating heart out of my chest and then ask me to tea…
Often people who are meeting me for the first time, readers of my blog, and even those who have known me forever ask me, “What do you DO?” What they mean is that they can’t quite categorize me according to the normal capitalist scheme we have for DOING, for work. We can’t imagine there is a category simply for being, or that work might just be something we DO so that we can BE. So much to unpack here. But let’s just say that my being is controversial to some. I am someone who rides the ecstatic wave of curiosity. I might be a receptionist on Tuesday so that I can write on Thursday. On Wednesday someone might have asked if I wanted to go with them to visit a relative in jail. On Friday, I’ll probably take someone to the clinic for her abortion. Saturday and Sunday I’m reading about medieval women prophets.
So, what do I DO?
I do whatever sounds fascinating, whatever piques my interest or scares the shit out of me. I do what needs doing so that I or others can be. I do a little here and there to make sure I don’t starve. I lift heavy. I do my PhD. I write books. I do what my energy and my inner compass tells me I need to do without any reference to whether it fits into accepted categories for me, my gender, my age, or anything else.
But what ARE YOU?
Ah ha! That’s an entirely different question though! That’s the problem. When someone follows up, “what do you do” with “what are you”, they are demanding I identify with some job or function of the consumer state. They want to know what I produce (answer: books no one wants to read) and if it makes enough money to justify my identification. I have and will always reject these ideas. I reject the idea that I need to DO in order to identify and that my DOING needs to be confined to predetermined categories for which I surely didn’t fucking vote.
What am I? I am curious, wild, caring, too loud, passionate, tired, energetic, full of questions, full of shit. I am alive.
It should always have been obvious to anyone unfortunate enough to read this blog that I’ve generally embraced my wildness and rejected rigid categories. And yet…and yet I’ve always longed for a home. Do wild things have homes? I don’t know, really. But I know that I’ve always hoped, even while laughing at myself for such hope,that there was a place for me, even if only on the edges. Like, maybe you’ll let me come warm myself by the campfire if I stay to the edge of the clearing. That’s what it seems drives my desire for spiritual community.
It’s all well and good to be wild and free but there is this part of me that always wants accountability. Community is good for that. If I live in community, however poorly formed, there is some sense of my responsibility to others. Without accountability, I’m afraid that I’ll just veer off into the void of self-obsession or that I’ll miss a vital experience of being alive in the presence of others. All of my life I had hoped that there was just a tiny little spot I could wedge myself into (not too tightly, I need to be able to run away) where I could care for others and others could care for me. Where perhaps there wouldn’t be too much emphasis on conformity or dogma or anything other than this astonishing gift of each other.
Something I’ve had to come to terms with over the last few weeks is that, as beautiful as this all sounds, it’s a dream that is dependent on others seeing things the way I do or of my seeing things the way they do. In other words, a dream, weirdly enough, of conformity. There is no edge for me. There’s no communal fire to which I might be invited on my own terms. Because no matter how much we so desperately want open and vibrant communities filled with their own eccentric and lovable characters, the truth is that, in the end, a community that refuses to be reflective will always take the laziest way. Instead of community opening up to embrace a new gift, it will instead offer the edge dwellers a pre-selected number of ways to be that are acceptable to the already-established community. Sadly, those pre-selected ways of being will almost always be limited, unimaginative, and morally repugnant. This is true even of the most supposedly “open” and “liberal” communities.
All of this explain why I need to confront my longing for community head on and to accept that there is no easy answer. There might never be a place for me. So, where does this leave me? My vocation? Even this shitty little blog?
It leaves me more open and vulnerable as ever. This is both good and bad, depending on the day and what I had for breakfast. It leaves me a wild thing that makes its home where it best serves its purpose. It leaves me a wild thing who refuses to eat from the hands of others.
It leaves my vocation unanswered. As a post-theist, I don’t rely on an interventionist God to find me a spot like some celestial job recruiter. I have stirrings in my life that I take seriously and that I answer and obey. I can’t control how others interpret this and I can’t rely on them to “recognize my calling”. Frankly, I’m not sure it matters in the long run. I will continue to walk with women, offering what little I can. I will continue to pursue the constant burning in my belly that tells me something is worth looking into.
It leaves this site what it has always really been underneath it all – an exploration of curiosity and the lengths it will take us if we engage. It’s about that and it’s about nothing. I expect this to be of interest to no one but if it does find one engaged reader, that’s wonderful.
So, here we go, off into the future as lone explorers responsible for their own campfires.