New Year, New Me

Or not. January is not the time of year when I feel pushed to make big changes. I feel like nesting and baking. I feel like being under blankets with a book. For some reason I still feel the draw of the academic year. Even during long periods in which I was not in school, it is September that feels like the chance to make a fresh start, to make some changes in my life.

This time of year feels like nourishment to me. It feels like rest. It feels like self-care, because at this point I’ve likely overdone it somehow. If I am going to be my best self through a dreary winter, I probably do need to make some changes, but they aren’t going to be drastic ones. They aren’t going to go bone deep. They will more likely be gentle resets, reminders to fill myself up so that I can go back out there and do what I need to do. In this case it is getting ready for the new semester, but this is also on my mind as I have reached the halfway point in my unit of CPE. Every hospital shift is a balancing act between self-care and care for others. Every day I am there I encounter something difficult or heart rending, and I have to do what I need to do to keep going until I hand over the pager. That isn’t so different from other times in my life; we all have the things we must do to get by. We all have the things we really need to do at some point during the week, the month, the season. We also all have the big things, calling out for our attention.

I had the privilege of preaching at First Church in Boston on December 29, 2019. If I’d had the luxury of a multi part series, there is so much I would have said about different angles, but the core for me that day was simply refusing to dive in to our culture of productivity, efficiency, and improvement. No diets, no new regimens. Instead I want to spend this season navigating the life that is right in front of me. I want to step away from productivity instead of into it. So much of what I value doesn’t fit in a narrative of efficient productivity, and religious community and justice work are at the top of that list. Both of those things involve labor, but they aren’t about optimizing value. They are about connection. They are about relationship. They are about living in the world.

I am not against self-improvement. I could definitely do more to nourish myself. But it is not in service of maximizing my production. It is so that I can be the self I want to be and live the life I want to live.

Pulling Myself Together

Not because I am a hot mess (I hope) but to bring together all the bits of my work over the past couple of years, so that they can all be in one cohesive whole.

It’s a new year, and I am halfway through my MDiv program at Boston University. Halfway! That seems impossible; surely I just started there. Yet it also feels as though I’ve been doing this always, the dash from classroom to library to lunch, cramming in church work and hospital work where ever it will fit. It feels as if I have always been living this way.

I want a place to gather my thoughts, to gather my work, and it may as well be public, given the public nature of the work of a minister. I imagine the blog will mostly be for book reviews, but this is also a good place to put up information about my sermons. The most frequently asked question I get is to spell out the names of authors I mention, and the close second is for directions to articles referenced. UUs are nothing if not intellectual omnivores, curious to follow along on the journey of a speaker.

Sermons are to be heard, not read, so where available I have posted links to recordings, though I feel that leaves them hovering without context. They are also somewhat ephemeral by their very nature. It makes more sense to me to put whatever portions seem worthwhile into essay form, so links to those will go up as I revise them.

I hope this journey is exciting and interesting to others, but it is definitely exciting and interesting to me, so I will be cheerfully sending forth little thoughts as I have them. If you’re joining me along the way, please send me your thoughts as well! It’s a little lonely to be typing to a screen instead of having a conversation with a friendly face.