benefits of not being clergy

I am exceedingly thankful that I am a lay person and not clergy. Why would anyone willing do this? (I say this knowing that my sister is clergy and I have many clergy friends.)

I was reminded why I am thankful for my non-profession status within the church last night. Right now, we (a substantial population of the Williamson clan and extended others) are gathered in Abilene, TX for Thanksgiving. Dinner today will be at least 30 people gathered around several tables, and then we disperse to various napping "stations" (where ever you sit/lay and manage to fall asleep) and football watching.

Anyway, last night both my sister and I were sitting on a couch when our aunt's brother-in-law came over and we started chatting. After learning that Kelli is a pastor, the questions began. The good thing is that he was asking honest questions instead of defensive or antagonistic retorts. I am a fan of the question we heard, "so what do ya'll (Methodists) believe?" Go ahead and try to answer that one. No other promptings. Good times. What I appreciated is that I could answer with, "well, this is what I have come to believe, but I am still learning and could very well be wrong". Clergy don't have that benefit. Once it is discovered what they do, they are direct representatives of that denomination/sect/religion. So my sister was trying to answer various questions with guarded and cautious responses because what she says becomes truth in his eyes. I like having the opportunity to be wrong (sadly, it does happen) and no harm, no foul.

So there's one more thing tallied up to be thankful for this day. Have a happy thankful day and every day.


hurry up and rest

Being in a hurry is a strange thing. Not to say I am unfamiliar with the concept - quite the contrary actually (and sadly). Allow me to expound on it by way of something that I just realized today.

I don't eat breakfast. I like breakfast foods, just at other times of the day. I used to eat breakfast back as a kid until mid-high school-ish. Back then, I really looked forward to that time. I would need to get up early for morning practice (either basketball or band or both), and my dad would also be up early because he was very much a morning person and would drop me off at school on the way into work. So the morning was kind of our little space of time to sit, eat, and catch up on what was happening in that day. It was a nice breath time before the craziness began.

But now, I have learned to value my sleep. I am still a morning person, but I simply "maximize" my time. I get as much of those precious last minutes of sleep, I get up and ready, and then rush off to work. I don't want to "waste" my beloved morning time just sitting around. This is the part that I realized today. And how sad. But I don't want to remedy it.

I also encountered that this last weekend. I decided that I wanted to just go for a ride. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and I didn't want it to slip by me (especially with winter approaching). So I took me, my motorcycle, and my camera, and we (the plural me) rode out to Fredericksburg, about an hour from where I live. And when I got there, I turned around and headed back. But on the way, I found myself hurrying to get ... to get where? It was the ride I wanted and not the destination. Having to literally ask myself, "Self, why I am rushing to relax? Slow down, and enjoy the ride."

I am hundred-fold better at that than I was even a year ago. I do make time now to be chillin' - lounging on my hammock, jumping on my bike for a random ride, or even sitting quietly with my eyes closed when going from one meeting to another or one location to the next. But, oh how much improvement there is to be had.


disappointment with God

(from Yancey's Disappointment With God, page 47 & 48) "For a time God did show up in person, and a man spoke to him face to face as he might speak with a friend. They met together, God and Moses, in a tent pitched just outside the Israelite camp. The rendezvous was no secret. Whenever Moses trudged over to the tent to talk with God, the whole camp turned out to watch. ... And yet what happened during those days almost defies belief. When Moses climbed the sacred mountain stormy with the signs of God's presence, those people who had lived through the ten plagues of Egypt, who had crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, who had drunk water from a rock, who were digesting the miracle manna in their stomachs at that moment - those same people got bored or impatient or rebellious or jealous and apparently forgot all about their God. ... God did not play hide-and-seek with the Israelites; they had every proof of his existence you could ask for. ... The Israelites responded not with worship and love, but with fear and open rebellion. God's visible presence did nothing to improve lasting faith."

And yet.

I [finally] finished reading a book that a friend from my time in India gave me just before leaving. They knew what they were getting themselves into when they accepted me for the internship. With good counsel, I had not made secret what I had recently gone through or was currently going through - and those wonderful people that I worked with, housed with, ate with, worshipped with, accepted the risk that I thought I was. I did experience some times of strong emotion - and not necessarily just around the days of a year out of my dad's death, or his first birthday non-anniversary. I read the book of Job as if I were back in English AP class, dissecting the text for every bit of anything. I so wanted to feel God's presence again, His arms around me holding me up lest I fall.

But maybe sometimes it is better not to have the direct encounter. Because I continued to seek Him, I found beauty and peace. That's not to say that I still do not wish God would say, 'I know I did the direct communication and visible presence thing with the Israelites and it did not work out well for them ... but I will give it another shot.' With the knowledge that God wants me to do this or that, it would make planning specifically much easier. I'm just saying ...



So I have dreams. Nothing like ML King, Jr. - nothing particularly encouraging or life enriching. Simply a product of my mind deciding it never wants to shut down ... or even go into hibernation mode.

My dreams are vivid. Despite how much sense they don't make sometimes, I still have to question if things really happened. A consequence to that is I am tired when I wake up. And what was worse, while in India on a project trip near Mumbai, I needed to take Malaria meds. A major side effect stated was vivid dreams & hallucinations. Wow, those pills messed with me. I even very recently had a dream about Teletubbies, which was just strange. But this is all besides the point.

Most of the time, when analyzing and picking them apart, what I or others like my sister uncover is that what I ponder during the day, I also ponder at night (albeit in odd ways). Last night was just such a night.

It all started and ended with a mirror. I was speaking in front of a group of people about being real. I stood facing the mirror with my back to the audience. I said that what you see and what I see are very different. I don't know what you see, but I have an idea because I put on certain masks and mannerisms to present the Tammi I want you to think I am. What I see is a woman who is not in fact perfect - no where near it - and many times I don't even try to be. I see imperfection. I see pride even amidst my self loathing, but it's not all bad. I see someone that so desperately wants to hide sometimes - ah ha! that's progress because I used to always want to hide, to disappear. I see my wounds that I tried to make unnoticed for so long, too long. I see me.

I had gone home early on Thursday and while seeing what was on TV, caught the last bit of a Dr. Phil episode. Ordinarily I would skip on by, but the title and what was happening captured my attention. Apparently Dr. Phil is doing a series called Get Real Retreat. A man was telling the group that he doesn't have it all together. He owes child support, is in debt, isn't the father of his child ... he made the choice to be who he is in front of this group and consequently also in front of whatever extremely large television viewing audience.

Way to go secular television. Where is the church? We know that it is only God's grace that first accepted us just as we were, where we were ... and continues to redeem us in just the same way. Why aren't people finding freedom to 'get real' in church among a body of people who know exactly how good it is not to need to hide. And yet - and yet, we still hide from each other.

I am starting to sound preachy. hm. It breaks my heart to see people that are trying so hard and struggling so much to keep their mask (or masks) up. I desire for them to know that freedom - that I still forget I have - of being me.

So still standing facing the dreaded mirror, I say: I want to live my life, not this reflection's life that I have put before you. You and I see different me's, but I want to see me from God's perspective and live like it. And I want to see you - not the image you put before me or what you see, but I want to see you, and love you for you, the real you. As real as California cheese. (sorry, couldn't resist).

Crazy dream, huh? whew. Glad that's not real.