Thursday, June 18, 2009

Interstitial living


It's been a while since I've posted...sort of a "between time" for me. The end of May meant the end of the choral season, the end of the heavier church season, and a brief lull before a Big Event that marks the real beginning of summer for me (more on this below). I'd come to a point at which some re-evaluation was needed; I was beyond exhausted from the pace I'd been keeping, and needed some recovery time. In that interim, I also needed to do some serious thinking about the ways in which I spend my time...where my gifts are, where I'd like to put my energy. I didn't have a lot to say, blogolistically (?) speaking; was feeling the need to shut up and listen for a while.

And so I did. And it was good.

I've made some changes--spoken the truth about what I really want, to myself and--where needed--to others. I also did some difficult things I've been avoiding, and I'm feeling better.

One of the many changes that's come about recently is a new boss at my day job, and in our "getting to know you" meeting she described my role in our office as "interstitial." I loved that. First, because she has an interesting and creative vocabulary; second, because it's pretty apt. I move in the spaces between things. My job lives there, and I'm energized there. Besides which:
  • I joke about being a "BuddLutheran" because my deeply-rooted Lutheranism is seasoned by Zen, and the two are so different from one another.
  • I'm both a church geek and a lesbian; I live somewhere in between church culture and GLBT culture.
  • I'm a musician, a writer, a minister and a teacher, bouncing around those mini-vocations like a pinball.
I live in the spaces between. And so, I present (interstitially) the following, for fun; we'll be right back after this:

I heard a podcast of a rather terrific sermon on John 14 today, in which the preacher refused to try to neatly "resolve" her difficulties with the "I am the way" statement, in regard to the ways it has been used by Christians to perpetrate judgment and cruelties upon people of other faiths. She said instead,

I stand in front of you with fragments--
pieces of ideas I find compelling in relation to it--
but I cannot solve it...I prefer
to live it its interstices,
the hard places,
the ruptures that this text opens up.

She then presented several of those fragments, and they illuminated the text for me far more fully than any pat answer would have.

We stand with our fragments; sometimes, that's all we can do.

And there's that word again: interstices. The places between--between answers encased in smooth little shells, between rocks and hard places, between comfortable definitions, between "now" and "not yet," between, between, between.

I've begun to believe that this is where most of the good stuff is.

I spent a part of last week at a family reunion with Beloved's family...almost all of them. Most of them, I was meeting for the first time since Beloved and I got together 11 1/2 years ago.

It was illuminating.

Because, before last week, I thought that most of the barriers in our not-really-developing family relationships had to do with the fact that Beloved and I are gay, and together. I thought I was regarded as sort of the Evil Influence Upon their Treasured Youngest Daughter, and therefore persona non grata. I don't think that any more. It's perhaps a little piece of the puzzle, but by no means the whole thing.

I think we have the same problem that most people have. I think that what we have here is a failure to communicate. And much of that failure results from an unwillingness to even visit the interstices--places of doubt, of vulnerability, and so all we can do is carom off each other's hard little shells.

Don't get me wrong--it wasn't miserable or anything; some parts of the trip were quite nice, and I was glad to be included. That was a big step.

I'll approach this situation differently now. I'll try to help create some safe interstitial space between us, so that we can perhaps bridge the chasm. Maybe it's possible to build a little bit of trust with some of them.

At any rate, I'm going to try to be open to the possibility.

A gifted hymnwriter once told me about a song she was working on with her writing partner...they were arguing about one word in their new text based on Isaiah 2, a song about real and lasting peacemaking. They had the swords being changed into plowshares and the spears into pruning hooks and all that lovely imagery. There was a verse in which they re-stated the lowering of "sword and spear," and she wanted to change "spear" for "shield."

Because, as she said to me, true peacemaking requires vulnerability. True peacemaking sometimes requires a solitary walk across the interstitial space between two armies, in order to shake the hand of the other side's representative.

I'm wandering with my fragments, looking for that space. And it feels good.


Diane said...

maybe me too.

this is making me think lots.


Songbird said...

This is beautiful.

Jan said...

Deep and interesting. In between places must be like the Celtic idea of "liminal" space. Difficult place to be in, but also I would think more likely to sense the Holy there. Do you think so?