Today I am thankful for the severance I’ve received for the last six months since I left my call at Faith Lutheran Church. It enabled me to rest, recover, reconsider what is next in my life. It allowed me to put some money away for such a time as this. It gave me time to plan.
At this moment, my plans are continuing to unfold. A bakery is going in underneath my apartment and I am meeting with the women who are beginning that delightful enterprise to discuss doing some work together. I might do their press releases and a news story; or I might go downstairs in the wee hours and put bread in the oven. At any rate, I find it refreshing to think of helping other women start a business, especially a business as beloved by all people as a good bakery!
I continue to supply preach as I am invited and substitute teach in the Bexley Schools. Last week I taught 5th grade including taking them on a field trip to the Franklin Conservatory. I loved every minute of it. While the high school kids are interesting when it comes to discussions; at the elementary level I actually got to TEACH. Multiplication table races and science bingo and poetry. We even danced as is the tradition in this class to celebrate one boy getting every single one right in the multiplication race.
I am applying at several retail stores that I think would be a good fit…book stores and coffee shops. And I am exploring self publishing a book I have finished writing and others that are in process.
I am learning to use the COTA bus system which stops conveniently right in front of my apartment.
I am applying for work at Lutheran Social Services to possibly oversee a food pantry; and I am exploring how to use a food pantry for staples in my own kitchen.
It’s interesting, facing poverty square in the face. And I don’t say that to enlist pity or sympathy of any kind. I’ve simply decided that I need to own this particular time in my life and name it. Light heals shame. When we name things and talk about them openly shame begins to dissipate. I was pondering this against some challenges that people I love are facing, such as cancer. It strikes me that in some ways, facing poverty is similar to facing cancer though I don’t believe there is shame per se in having cancer, though certainly the treatments invade one’s privacy and I imagine at times one feels their dignity is at stake as well. But like cancer, at this time I ‘know’ I am facing poverty if I don’t find work soon, so I know things could get worse before they get better. And I am preparing for whatever treatments I must endure to get to the other side. I am resigned to this and approaching it as a time of expanding my own compassion by walking in the shoes that millions of people have walked in before me and with me now.
This morning I went to the Dollar Store, a place I now frequent for all cleaning supplies and paper goods. It was packed. The woman ahead of me in line had 3 teenage sons. She was buying them deodorant. They wanted the larger size but she only had enough money for the smaller option. I remembered once when I was in Kroger and didn’t have enough money and had to put a large number of things back while people waited impatiently behind me.
The difference between the two situations was that I didn’t sense impatience in anyone as this woman explained to her sons why she wasn’t getting the one they wanted. We waited calmly as she counted out change to pay. One of her sons helped me carry a large item to the car.
I gave him a dollar for his help. Not because I necessarily had it to give; but because we were in this thing together. And in this place I am finding the shame factor is far less than it was when I held up the line in Kroger.
Despite all this, today I can honestly say that I am thankful. Thankful for the job I held as the pastor at Faith for nearly seven years and all the experiences I shared with interesting, loving, wise people in that time. I am thankful I stayed long enough to help that congregation build a church. I am thankful that a bus stops in front of my apartment rather than three blocks or more away as the winter draws near.
I am thankful for the wisdom of Max Ehrmann who wrote more than 100 years ago The Desiderata, which has been a guiding light on my path right beside the Gospel:
“With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
It is. And I am. And God is with me.