Spring Hare Moon
Denver. Realized I never got back here on the big dream I had. After working with it in a couple of different ways, here’s the nub of what I got: In retreating, I advance. The dream called me to consider the time just before my decision to re-enter the ministry with the UU’s.
It was, in many ways, a poor decision and, as I considered it over the retreat, probably caused me to lose almost a decade by turning my focus away from my real work: writing, gardening, politics, home life.
It shared a characteristic with my original decision to go into the ministry, also a poor one. My fascination with the sophisticated and intricate intellectual disciplines of first the Christian church (especially biblical study) and then the emerging movement of liberal religion in the United States entranced me. I confused my very real intellectual excitement with vocation. The ministry was not the vocation; the intellectual engagement was.
What this means is that I have to guard myself well when I get intellectually stimulated. A tendency, no, my pattern, is to seek out institutions that utilize that discipline and try to join them.
Instead, when I retreat from institutional involvement, I advance because I do my own work, on my own time and in my own way. Thus, leaving the ministry let me begin this focus on writing. Then, leaving Unity and giving up the UU ministry except for the occasional preaching assignment let me get started again on the writing.
But, I picked up the Sierra Club and the MIA. Why? Because both areas fully engage my intellectual interest. My passion for the Great Work on the one hand and beauty on the other pushed me into the institutional involvement.
Of course, I’m not saying these were wasted years. Any of them. I did real work, engaged difficult political, religious, organizational and educational challenges. However, what I am saying is that following my intellect toward institutional engagement has been a mistake. One I no longer have to continue.
Now, in the third phase, I have fully retreated to home and study, to self-directed work. So, I have advanced at last.
This is why, in part at least, this retreat basically affirmed what I’m already doing. It has taken me 40 plus years to learn this lesson. About time, I’d say.
The third phase, then, will be the first period of my life when I will engage life fully as I am. This retreat marked the end of a transition period that began roughly when Kate retired and which is now over.
Now we can live this new life, Kate as earth mother and quilter, me as, well, I don’t have the image yet, but I’m searching for it.