Dang! What is a random fact, anyhow? Is it something that nobody knows about you yet? Or is it a thought that's popped into your head apropros of nothing in particular? Is it necessary to amplify it and explain where it comes from or what its meaning is in your life? Ms. Theologian over at Surviving the Workday has tagged me for a meme of "eight random facts". Dang! Since Mama G over at Mom to the Left has asked for something similar from me, and since way back when in earlier days of this blog I did something slightly akin to both of them, I'm taking the liberty of conflating and re-defining this meme for myself. Sorry, Ms. T and Ms. G, but that's a random fact in itself, that I tend to re-mix what people ask of me and come up with my own take.
Therefore, this response to both Ms. T and Ms. G is going to take on the flavor of something that Chalice Chick and I discussed briefly via email earlier this week: what have been the defining moments of my life?
Just to comply with the rules Ms. T has passed along, here are the Rules of the aforementioned "8 random facts" meme:
1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
So, anyhow, what have been the defining moments of my life? And I can't resist adding a smidge of commentary, as you might expect!
1) Playing "Mandrake the Magician" with my new shiny cape at about age 5, and trying to get my sister's balloon down from a tree by magical means. My realization: that I am not magic and that there may be no magic in the universe. Interestingly, I felt accepting of this idea, not betrayed, since I'd never believed there was a Santa Claus anyhow. I think this event began a journey of being an observer of how the universe really works, rather than a believer in the supernatural.
2) Finding a little hideout on the back fence of our yard in Portland where I could read a book unobserved (age 7), or on the roof of the chicken house in Athena where my sister was unlikely to climb (age 10), or on horseback in the fields of Athena in the early morning (age 12), or in the cab of a truck with a book or notebook waiting for my turn to load peas or wheat into the truck. My realization: that I needed and loved solitude, even though I also needed and loved people, and that I loved to read and write poetry.
3) Spending the summer at Green Lake, WI, after college graduation, at the American Baptist Assembly grounds, and hearing incredible, liberal Christian speakers and discovering the book "Heavenly Discourse" by CES Wood. My realization: the world of religious belief, even Christianity, was far bigger than I had ever dreamed.
4) Getting jobs in welfare work and as a Baptist home missionary in the years right after college, where I served people who were desperately poor and had very different lives than I. My realization: people respond to warmth and friendship gladly when they feel accepted as equals and that I am naturally skilled at doing this, that it touches something deep in me to connect with people this way, a realization that helped me later thrive in 25 years of working as a teacher and counselor in junior high and middle schools.
5) Being asked, at my dad's little church in Goldendale WA, after speaking to his congregation about my work as a home missionary, "How many souls have you saved for Christ?". My realization: I'm not that kind of Christian any more, and I don't think I ever was one.
6) Marrying a Unitarian Universalist man. My realization: this is the religion (if not the man) I have been preparing to find. Additional realizations: sharing a fondness for words, a love for a child and other family members, a love of forests and rivers, plus a marriage license do not make a marriage. You cannot make a solid marriage if deeply held values are at odds. But I might have missed out on UUism if I hadn't married the man. And I wouldn't have the adult child who is so loved.
7) Hearing Robert Latham say to me from the pulpit, "you missed your calling, Kit, you ought to be a minister". My realization: OF COURSE! This is what I have been preparing for all my life, I just didn't realize it till now. So at age 53, I started seminary.
8) Being runner-up in several church search processes. My realization: that I am happiest when I am not overworked and underloved and have time to spend alone and doing the extra-ministerial things I love to do (volunteering as a chaplain, as an organizer of social action efforts, etc.) and that part-time ministry in a small congregation is the best fit for me.
So there, Ms. T and Ms. G! I have done what I can to answer your call. And I dare the following folks to take up the challenge and do with it as they will: 8 random facts or 8 defining moments. You choose.
Educated and Poor