gray skyThe cursor keeps time on the blank screen.  How many blinks before my next thought?  My next phrase?  This incessant blink blink blink taunts me.  Over these past few days, I have tried to respond to the prompts for Writing 101.  Words simply haven’t come.  I have sat poised and ready.  For long hours. Nothing happened.  Oh, I wrote a sentence fragment here and there.  Ended up deleting each one.  Some writer I am.  No.  I take that back.  I am a writer.  I breathe and think and laugh and cry and wonder and despair and write.  These experiences make up the whole of who I have come to recognize as me.  But I’ve always had difficulty writing on purpose and had hoped the daily challenges might coax me into greater consistency.  I was doing pretty good for the first two weeks.  I guess my enthusiasm waned.  That and I had a lot going on.

I was up and out early two mornings this week.  Off to doctors’ appointments.  One was a simple follow-up with my rheumatologist.  The other was a first time visit with a psychiatrist.  Don’t panic.  I am not crazy.  I did not end up in restraints that morning.  Nor was I carted off by the proverbial men in white coats.  Psychiatry carries a crippling stigma.  I’m not sure which makes my throat seize up more:  having to admit I am an alcoholic, or sharing that I am now seeing a psychiatrist.  My reasons for making the appointment are far from dramatic.  I simply felt an increase in my antidepressant medication would prove helpful and my primary doctor recommended I see a psychiatrist.  So, you see, I was simply acting under my doctor’s advice.  That and I figured one more attending doctor’s statement in support of my disability appeal surely couldn’t hurt.

It was really just a formality.  I’m actually doing quite well.  I celebrated eight months sober on the 21st, was asked to preside at a wedding of friends of a friend, and picked up a handful of preacher supply gigs over the next few months.  The opportunity to again step into the role of ordained minister has probably done more for my sagging spirit than any amount of medication or talk-therapy could ever accomplish.  It now feels like I’ve been having a bizarre out of body experience these past eight months and have finally landed back in my shoes.  Oh yeah, I remember now.  This is who I am.  The wedding was yesterday; a small gathering of family and friends on a lake shore.  It was cold, but sunny and the short ceremony went off without a hitch.  I could barely contain my happiness on my way home.  I was happy for the couple, sure, but I was absolutely ecstatic about my having officiated at a wedding.

And I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to sit down with Scripture and prayerfully discern a relevant message and then put on my alb and stole and step into a pulpit, let alone having the privilege to preside at communion again.  It has been a long time.  My joy is well off the charts and into the stratosphere.  It’s hard for me to explain, and, I suspect harder still for someone to understand.  But being called upon for these small favors has reignited the pilot light that fires up my passion for living.  All sorts of things seem possible again.  I am well aware caution is called for here.  It is dangerous to define one’s personhood by his or her professional standing.  I know I should be able to feel complete and whole independent of whether or not I’m “working,” but I’m indulging myself the luxury of lingering in this feeling of uncontainable glee for just a while longer.

So, anyway, back that infernal taunting of the cursor on the blank page.  Now that I’m typing full throttle, I may as well catch up my responses to the daily prompts.  I believe I can do that in a single sentence.  Here goes.   “Oh, my beloveds, I have searched the horizon beyond the darkening clouds of storm and night and found there a word for you, a word too enormous to behold and yet so easily captured with five swift strikes of the keys: faith.”  Granted, it is a rather long sentence, but I’m pretty sure it meets the criteria of Days 12, 13, 14, and 15 and, more importantly, is true.  Just beyond a seeming sea of despair, I stumbled again into the presence and love of God.  This pickled pastor might always be a pickle, but she’s always going to be a pastor too, and that realization is making a huge and holy difference.  All of time and space is sacred again.  Blank or otherwise.

21 thoughts on “Clearing

  1. Congratulations on your 8 month sobriety. And, congratulations on seeking help from a professional who can help you understand why you need the crutch of alcohol. Keep up the good work. I enjoyed your post very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful. You have a calling. It’s is still there.

    I don’t see any stigma with mental health. I love to talk about my therapist. My kids think having s therapist is cool. I would definitely see a psychiatrist if we had one in my city.

    Taking care of your whole self is important. Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s not hard at all for me to understand why you feel so much joy in being able to serve as a pastor again. You are born to it, is my guess. You have a servants heart. We all have something, I think, that seeks to sever our soul from the rest of us. For you it’s alcohol. I’m still trying to decide what it is for me. Insecurity maybe? I rejoice with you in your 8 mos. of sobriety, but even more so in the glow of your heart as you step back into your heartfelt ministry.Congrats on both fronts. (I was the secretary at Family in Christ Church in Ogden, Utah for 22 years and saw our pastor struggle through life the same as me. Being able to acknowledge that for him was a humbling experience.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Can I get a witness, PP! And halelujah. Great stirring and reawakening of the old you, for good reasons. Leave the baggage behind and bring the best forward. Stigma is for other people’s narrow goggles.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. While you are correct that profession cannot be the sum of who we are I think the worst feeling in the whole world is knowing that God gave me a job to do and I couldn’t pick up my clay feet and do a damn thing. Over time that tension brought the bottom up to smack me and I got clean and sober. I’ve known since my early teens I’m a poet by calling, don’t know how to say that, but that’s as well as I can describe it. And then I got stuck in a swamp of dope and bad thinking and a sick combination of legalism and relativism. I went and did a reading last night and knew I was right where I needed to be for the first time in years. There is something so powerful in having the words to connect with people and build them up and give them hope. I was so scared to go try again but left feeling so good to have done it and even done better than I ever could have before. Addiction is a great humbler and connector to the demons and struggles everyone faces. It can lead to greater compassion and empathy, I think. So thrilled to hear you’ve got doors opening!

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  6. I’ll quote you: ” Just beyond a seeming sea of despair, I stumbled again into the presence and love of God.” Yes. That sums it up for a lot of us . . . perhaps even all of us . . . we all have our pickles. Thank you for writing.

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  7. I am so happy for you that you are being called to officiate at a wedding, preach and preside at communion, Your words of faith are joyous. About seeing a psychiatrist – I think the very healthiest of people seek therapy. For twenty years I was married to a Clinical Psychologist who was an Episcopal priest as well. I helped him as a Pastoral counselor and co-therapist for groups. I love the world of people moving through pain and challenges seeking transformation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amazing how you can learn so much about a person in just the few short sentences of a comment. Interesting about your husband, psychology, and counseling … Episcopalian, huh? Nice flavor. I’m all for therapy. Have even thought about doing some counseling during this most recent reincarnation. It’s just that the word “psychiatry” congers up images of leather couches and odd men in beards with ink blots and notepads. I, of all people, detest stereotypes … but the psychiatrist ones still trip me up.


  8. I’ll add one more thing to the mix. I am a retired Presbyterian pastor. What I learned about you from your post was that you remain ordained. That was not clear to me from your posts about being let go from your former pastorate. I understand what that means to your sense of yourself. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, the gift of feeling less alone in the wilderness … Thank you. My current status is “on leave from call.” In a few years, I will be able to officially change that to “retired.” I like the sound of that so much better : )


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