Friday, January 22, 2021
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Yesterday was a day of highs and lows, as I expected, although the lows were brief. As I was about to leave for work, I realized that Trump was about to leave the White House, so I turned on the TV. Sure enough, there was the helicopter, waiting to take Trump away from D.C., away from the Inauguration, which he had decided not to attend. I waited, watching, while the helicopter rose. Some of the camera shots were amazing, including one of the helicopter and the edge of the Capitol building.
Throughout the day, I would feel weepy as I saw footage of D.C. How I love that city! Throughout the first 45 years of my life, my path wound back there: we made annual pilgrimages there for my dad's reserve service week-ends and weeks, we lived near there and made trips there for cultural enrichment and to see family friends, and my parents moved to the Virginia suburbs when I was in college and lived there for the next 25 years. I spent college summers doing social service work in the less desirable parts of the city, back when the city had the highest murder rate in the country. We almost always went into the city when I came back as a grown up to visit my parents.
As I drove to work yesterday morning, Trump arrived at Joint Base Andrews and said his final remarks. I was amazed when he said, "Honey, would you like to say a few words?" I was stunned--both that he used a term of endearment that I've never heard come from his mouth before, not to his wife, not to anyone, and also because he shared the stage.
I got to my office and did some of the work of the day that had to be done. I zipped over to Office Depot to pick up the spiral bound self-studies that needed to be in the mail by the end of the day--our Vet Tech program is having a site visit in March, and those documents need to be received by accreditors by Jan. 27. I answered e-mails and re-set a password so that I could access the fingerprint checks for our incoming students. I did some troubleshooting with a program chair.
In short, even though it was a momentous day, we still had work to do. Just before I shifted my attention to the Inauguration, I made this Facebook post: "As one administration shifts to another administration, we do the work that must be done, no matter who is in power: we shepherd the students, we write the e-mails, we get the accreditation documents ready to go, we donate to the food pantries, we check up on the people who need us, we meet the deadlines, we do the work."
At about 10:30, I got a phone call from a colleague who said, "Where are you, Dr. K? You're missing it all!" So I went to her office and realized that people were arriving for the inauguration (capitalize this word? can't decide). I watched a bit, thinking I would come back closer to time for swearing in--but I didn't want to miss the swearing in of the first woman to achieve such high office--sure, it's not the presidency, but I'll take this crumb!
At some point, one of us suggested we move to the conference room, and we did--we had a much bigger monitor, and we could spread out, so it was a good call. Every so often the live feed would fail, which was frustrating, but we coped. I had thought I might watch the ceremony alone in my office, but it was so much better to cheer and weep with colleagues.
I loved hearing the national anthem--it moved me more deeply, given the assault on the Capitol just 2 weeks earlier. I am still just astonished that I'm writing these words. Four years ago, I was expecting armed assaults, but I imagined that Trump would take the path of other dictators and start foreign wars to solidify support and power.
I loved the swearing in--tears again and again. I loved Biden's speech. I realize that he trotted out familiar themes for inauguration day, but what a relief to have a president who understands why these themes of unity are important. What a relief to have a president who wants to inspire us, not divide us.
I loved the music and the musicians. I loved that Jennifer Lopez sang "This Land Is Your Land"--a Woody Guthrie song so perfect for the day! At one point, when Garth Brooks was singing "Amazing Grace," he turned to the camera and said, "At home, sing along." One of my colleagues murmered, "Are we going to sing?" And we sang softly together.
I loved the poet, although I found her hand motions distracting. Will her poem become my favorite? No--but no inaugural poem so far will be my favorite. I'm always just happy when a poet is invited to be part--it sends a message that is so important to me.
I even liked the closing prayer, although including prayers in these events makes me queasy. It's so easy to go wrong. Yesterday's prayer seemed inclusive to me in a way that other prayers don't.
And then it was time to get back to the work of the day: back and forth to the UPS store, getting mailing supplies, preparing the mailing, getting to the UPS store to realize I had forgotten the zip code on one of the packages, back to the office, back to the UPS store. I was fairly exhausted by the end of the day.
I ended the day with my online Mepkin journaling group--we are all of like minds, both politically and spiritually, so it was good to be together, even though I journaled more about the events of the day than the material we were scheduled to discuss/journal.
Late in the day, I made this Facebook post:
"Earlier today I was trying to remember if I had ever seen an inauguration in school when I was a child. Then I remembered that back then, TVs were huge and expensive and one couldn't put them on rolling carts. It was before the age of VCRs, so one wouldn't tape the inauguration so that students could watch it later and analyze it. And we couldn't stream on our computers--a computer took up a whole room, and you communicated with it by way of punch cards.
Wow, I am old. And wise."
I've spent some time this morning reading blog posts from the early days of the Trump presidency, and I was as clear-eyed as I remember, although I wouldn't have anticipated the mob attacking our own Capitol--at least not in the open, post-a-Selfie way it happened. I am both relieved that we survived, and anxious that the next time we won't be so lucky. Trump was fairly ineffectual, and thus, anyone paying attention could learn some valuable lessons about what not to do and what might work.
But for now, let me rest and breathe--and assemble the tools that will be needed to mend this tattered country.
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
milkweed blooms, monarchs visit
other species fed
Decomposing Christmas trees
Warm breath of future
If I had to title this one, I might go with this: Inauguration Eve.
Monday, January 18, 2021
Sunday, January 17, 2021
On Friday, my onground intensive ended with a commissioning service for the class ahead of me that was finishing the program. It felt strange for the experience to end at 5:45, to turn off the screen and wander around the house. It should have been a later service that ended with a champagne reception--or a Saturday morning service where we headed out into the world with our talents.
But as we were doing the service, I thought about how it was profoundly moving in unexpected ways. As each person's name was called, we all stretched out our hands to our individual cameras--so the Zoom session was a series of boxes of hands. That approach also made it easier to find the graduate we were blessing.
And in our care packages, each graduate got a vial of consecrating oil. So even though the candidate had to do self-anointing, we were able to hold onto that element of the commissioning service.
As each part of the body was mentioned, the graduate touched the oil to the body part: "The servant of God, (name), is anointed to a ministry of spiritual direction. May your mind always be attentive to God. May your ears be attuned to the words of those whom God sends your way and to the promptings of the Spirit. May your mouth under the guidance of the Spirit speak deep wisdom that is not your own. And may your heart be centered in the love of God. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Yesterday I was aware that if it had been a year ago, I'd have been arriving at the seminary campus for the first onground intensive in my journey to be certified as a spiritual director. At the end of that intensive, I was in great spirits, ready for where the future was taking me, even as I admitted that I wasn't sure what I envisioned.
Little did I know what was about to fall on our collective heads . . .
I do think that there will be an upsurge in demand for spiritual direction in all its variations once we get past the worst part of this pandemic. Times of plague often lead to times of change, some of it tumultuous, some of it rewarding. I'm thinking about the Renaissance that came after the Black Death. In generalizing hundreds of years of history into a single sentence, and all the risks inherent with that condensation, I could argue that the the 30% death rate during the first outbreaks of the Black Death led people to question religious authorities and to move in directions they would not have if there had been no plague, directions that made them more free.
But I digress.
I have spent the last 3 days, at least part of them, at the second onground intensive, but because of the pandemic, we met online. This morning I thought, well, at least I don't have a 10 hour car drive today. But I also don't have that surge of energy and enthusiasm that comes from time away.
I missed the opportunity to have deep conversation with people along the way. Last year, I stayed with grad school friends before and after the intensive, and during the intensive I had great opportunities to talk with people, even though one purpose of the intensive was to explore the idea of solitude.
This year, I stared into a computer screen, hour after hour after hour. We had some small group sessions, which were great, but not quite the same.
Also not quite the same: the worship. They felt more like sessions than services. They were well done, with beautiful slides and music. But it wasn't the same as going to the chapel with its beautiful stained glass. And we didn't have communion.
What I missed most was the chance to be away--I missed it, even as I realized that it was much easier for me to participate online than onground this year. Had there been no pandemic, it would have been tough for me to get away. My request for leave was only granted early this week.
On Wednesday, I needed to be at the office, or at least I thought I did. My school is being bought by a Brooklyn school, and on Wednesday, the new owners were visiting my campus. So on Wednesday, I tuned in for the morning prayer and the opening remarks. I was able to be part of the instruction sessions and one of the 2 small group sessions. I stayed at the office so that I could tune in for Vespers. It was strange.
On Thursday and Friday, even though I was taking leave, I went to the campus to help open it. We only have 3 people with all the keys to open the campus, and one of them was out on unexpected bereavement leave. Each day, I opened doors, took temperatures, answered questions, did a few tasks, and then headed home. It was much easier to focus on the intensive at home, but still imperfect.
Throughout I tried to adopt the attitude that it was better to have an online intensive than a canceled intensive. We were supposed to have this intensive back in June. But I also wrestled with my feelings of disappointment. A year ago, I thought I had found a way to be at more peace with my feelings of displacement. This past year, I've been feeling more displaced than ever.
It's a spiritual displacement. In literal terms, I'm rooted in South Florida: I have a house, a job, and friends. But in the past few years, most of my South Florida friends have moved away, and it's become clear that I can't count on my job the way I once could, and that global warming is moving much faster than I anticipated, which means that my house is in constant danger.
My spirit yearns to live in a different place, and last year, I was thinking that by working towards this certificate, I'd have more chances to get away to places that soothe my soul: the seminary campus, Lutheridge, time with friends as place. This year, I have no idea what's coming our way.
In a way, it could be worse. At least I didn't enter into this program with a rigid idea of my expected trajectory--that might make it harder to make adjustments.
I've continued moving forward. I've lived long enough to know that sometimes it's best to just keep going, even if one has lost one's nerve/faith/certainty. I'm reminded of the advice given to those who have lost a spouse to death or divorce--don't make any big decisions leading to big changes for the first year after the traumatic event.
For at least the next year, that's the advice I'm following, even with the knowledge that I may not have the luxury of being the one making the choice.