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January 20, 2008

Posted by introspectreangel in blogging, Episcopal.
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So today was the annual meeting at church, a time in which reports are given and budgets explained and vestry members and diocesan convention delegates are elected.  Even though I haven’t been attending this church very long and haven’t officially transferred my letter yet (therefore not having voting privileges), I decided to attend.  I haven’t gotten to know anyone or participated in anything outside of services yet, and I thought maybe I could get a better sense of what the actual people of the church were like if I saw them in a forum where there would be some discussions and debates.

(Side note: this is a different method of operating for me, by the way.  When I have joined a new parish in the past, I have jumped in with both feet.  I have introduced myself and my family to the rector, asked how I could get involved, attended education classes right off the bat, pledged…the whole works.  But I’m stepping gingerly this time.  Part of this has to do with the fact that this IS the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, an all-around unfriendly place for people who want (as I do) to remain Episcopalian.  The other part is my own emotional state.  I feel odd, being as it’s just Boy-o and me, no husband.  Until it was gone, I didn’t realize how much security I took from simply being someone’s wife, even though the marriage was a disaster almost from the get go, even though I know with all my heart that I will be healthier on my own.  I’m not comfortable identifying myself as husband-less yet.  I find myself wondering if the fact that I haven’t felt welcomed in this parish has to do with my insecurities about no longer being part of a “traditional” family unit, or whether it really is THEM.  So today, to battle some of the demons that have been trailing my footsteps (see last post), I decided to try and find out by attending this meeting.)

I had read in the bulletin that child care would be provided, but not knowing anyone, and being a little nervous about asking (because then people would know I don’t BELONG), I ambled around to all the classrooms until I found the one where there were kids watching movies.  I asked if this was the child care for the meeting, and the nice lady said it was.  She took Boy-o’s backpack, asked his name, and sat him in  a chair with the other kids to watch “Ratatouille”.  I went back into the parish hall and looked around for a place to sit.  Lunch was being served (a baked potato bar), but I wasn’t hungry, so I found a place at a table where no one else was sitting.  In the old days, I would have seated myself and my husband at a table that had people already, shaken hands, introduced the both of us, and started a conversation.  But these are most definitely not the old days.  I was nervous.  I wanted to know more about the parish, but wasn’t sure how to begin finding out.  There were a lot of people there, they were all wearing name tags, and I didn’t know any of them.

Then a very nice woman at another table made eye contact with me and asked if I would like to come sit with them, so I did.  Introductions were made around the table, and I put on my super duper being-interviewed-for-a-job-and-I-have-to-make-them-like-them-me smiley face.  The lady who invited me asked how long I had been coming to the parish, I said only a few weeks and explained I had recently moved back home to the area from Oklahoma.  It turned out that we live in the same Fort Worth suburb, only a few miles apart, and both drive about 25 minutes to this parish when there is another Episcopal parish in the very town we live in.  I also learned she and her husband were from Oklahoma, so that gave us a few things to talk about.  The priest-in-charge (the parish is in the middle of a rector search process, it turns out) interrupted our getting to know one another by doing the familiar quieting of the room with “The Lord be with you”, and informed us that Bishop +JLI had asked that this video  (text can be found here) of his address from the diocesan convention in November be played at each parish’s annual meeting.

Immediately, the following comments were heard:

“But he didn’t say we had to listen, did he?”

“Pfffft!”

“You know, after I was confirmed he held out his hand at a 45 degree angle like I was supposed to kiss his ring, and all I could think of was in the Lord of the Rings when Gollum bites Frodo’s finger off.”

And if I needed any more reassurance that I was in an okay place, my new friend  asked me what brought me to this place instead of the closer parish.  I looked at the other people around the table, screwed up my courage, and did something that I understand is quite risky these days in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth – I blurted out, “I want to be part of a place that is not on its way out of The Episcopal Church.”  Everyone smiled, and an older gentleman (who it also turned out was a vestry member) said I had come to the right place.

This was all being said in quiet voices while the video was playing, and the whole room was in conversation in this manner.  I can honestly say that I have never seen a group of Episcopalians less interested in what their bishop had to say.  Another woman at the table told me, “We were considerate while he was explaining the bit about the history of how the diocese came to be, but frankly we really don’t care to hear the rest of his opinions about how we are going to be “left behind”.  Her husband commented on the hearty applause by the convention delegates at the end of the bishop’s talk, and the vestry member next to me said, “Well, of course – he’s preaching to his choir.  We are not members of his choir.”

So, this weekend’s progress consisted of the following:

1. Reactivating membership in that famous club that makes you write down everything you eat.

2. Making friends at church.

3. Not obsessing about that which has been lost forever.

The activities of the next few days are expected to include:

1. A talk with Fr. Priest-in-Charge, who is also in charge of the Stephen Ministry.  Because I think I could use their help.

2. A concerted effort to remember that not everyone is thinking about me all the time.  Cos this whiny shit I’ve been doing is seriously pathological.

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Comments»

1. Missy - January 21, 2008

The people at that church sound awesome! I’m glad you found such a great church.

So I take it things are looking up for you now? I just read your last post and I was very worried…

2. marybeth - January 21, 2008

Hurrah!!!!

Kudos on all fronts. Jumping in with all your feet is a familiar and easier way to go, and I have done that. It ends up problematic for me. It is VERY HARD to sit alone and watch and listen, as you did. But you saw and heard what you needed…to start with.

So glad the meeting went well. We had a fascinating Sunday school class about many of the arguments made by Iker, brilliantly refuted by one of our assisting priests. Thanks be to God.

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!!!!

3. introspectreangel - January 21, 2008

Missy, I desperately want to say it was simply a rough week and my frustration reached a boiling point, but as I re-read that post I find myself wondering what I would think if someone I knew was writing that…and I would be very worried, too. I also desperately want to say that yep, things are looking up and I’m all better now, but I’m not. All that stuff is still lurking there. I wish I knew what exactly to do to tackle it, but I don’t. Tell you what: I’ll keep writing, and you keep reading.
Mary Beth, here’s crossing my fingers for no migraines! If it’s okay with you, I may bring The Princess. All she talks about lately is wanting to go to London when she’s in college. I told her I had a friend who could possibly tell her how to make it happen!

4. Mary Beth - January 23, 2008

Woot! Would love to meet the Princess and I am definitely planning on seeing you!!!

excellent!


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