Friday, October 10, 2008

A deepening sadness

I'm still not sure that I should write this post. But it seems I am so I'll go ahead.

This has been one of the most...

And then I stop. I can not seem to find the words to describe how I feel. Saddened? Yes but that's not all. Worried? Yes that too but still doesn't cover it. There's an aspect of spiritual gloom that has descended on me that I struggle to describe. It is a great weight upon my mind and soul and heart.

Last weekend the the diocese where I grew up voted that they no longer wished to be part of the Episcopal church. It wasn't a surprising move, they've been telegraphing this punch for years now. I respect their point of view theologically even as I utterly disagree with it. I believe their attempt to leave as a diocese is without meaning. Dioceses are creations of General Convention and have no independent existence. They can leave individually but not as an entity.

Even though I knew the vote was a foregone conclusion it still saddens me. Sad beyond the deepening rift in my denomination. Sad to my core because this is the diocese of my baptism (St. Andrews, New Kensington), my confirmation and marriage (St. Thomas in the Fields, Gibsonia). It is where my parents ashes are interred. I don't know if that congregation will decide to stay as have 19 other so far. I can only imagine this is how children of divorce must feel. Torn by our affection for both sides but feeling that we are being forced into making a choice. It has been a darkness on my heart.

Then came the announcement that some folks are leaving us here in Western New York. Some of the clery and congregation at St. Bartholomew's Tonawanda have informed the bishop that they too will be departing TEC. Again, not a surprise. The folks at St. Bart's have been open about their disagreement, have kept the channels open for discussion and in the end have made their decision. They will walk away and form a new congregation in a new building. I have the highest respect for these folks. They have walked what must have been an incredibly difficult path and done it with honor and dignity. The words fail me on how much I respect and honor this hard and painful decision. I am truly sorry to lose them and I wish them well. But it is a further darkness on my heart.

Finally I must admit the financial crisis frightens me. Each day my small investments portfolio is devastated again. My financial situation was tight but manageable before. Now I must admit that the first touch of fear has descended. What will be left? How bad will the economy get? How hard will our diocesan budget be hit. Will I still have a job? How will I care for my family? Yesterday when I saw the final numbers for the Dow I literally became light headed. I can not deny it any longer.

I am afraid.

My faith tells me to trust in God. But I am not one who can just lay back and hope that God will make it all better. My belief is that God expects us to be involved in creating our own lives. I have no faith in predestination, nor a micro-manager deity. God has given me life, and gifts and love. Now I must make of them what I am able. I must ask God to help me hold this fear at bay. I will ask him to lift, at least a little, the darkness that oppresses me. And yes, foolish inconsistent mortal that I am I will ask him to micro-manage just a little bit in my favor!

I will not give up. I will not give in. I will continue to live my life and follow my calling.

And I will pray. A lot.

God watch over us all.



PseudoPiskie said...

There is much to be sad about today. I'm lucky in that I don't have to sell any securities I own to live or finance any large purchases. I'm invested for income which so far is relatively safe. My heart goes out to people who are caught in this result of greed. Be patient, Jay. The market will return.

The mess in Pittsburgh has been a long time coming. I'm hopeful that Fr. Simons and others will rebuild the Dio of Pittsburgh quickly and once again get about the business of doing what Jesus taught rather than working toward schism.

There is much fear in the US today. Life is easier for people who don't have to think or make decisions about their behavior. The dissidents in TEC capitalize on this fear. They are clueless about the message of the Gospels which is to love God, love all neighbors, feed the hungry, etc. They are hung up on personal salvation and knowing that they are better than others - the message of those men who would impose their prejudices on the church. WE can pray they will grow in the knowledge and love of God but we can't really beat the fear as long as that is the tool of those who govern us. Ugh

StLouisJohn said...

If I may correct you on one item.

Last weekend the the diocese where I grew up voted that they no longer wished to be part of the Episcopal church.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh did not vote to leave the Episcopal Church. A number of individuals did, but not the diocese. The Diocese of your youth and that you love is still corporate, albeit smaller, albeit a vacant see. But it's still there. Just as San Joachin is rebuilding, so shall Pittsburgh. And not on a foundation of sand.

I hear your fears about the stock market, the economy, and your place and the place of others in this time of turmoil. Myself, I feel sort of at the epicenter.

I am a contractor, and my contract is at a brokerage house. First, that brokerage house was A.G. Edwards, then it became Wachovia Securities, and now it's looking to be Wells Fargo. One day, a fellow contractor and I happened to glance at a reading of the Dow...spontaneously, we both said "Oh my God!"

Like you, I do not feel God made us as hand-puppets....but gave us a toolbox to go out and make our place in the world. Nevertheless, God still watches over us if we believe.

Peace and prayers be with you and yours.