Thursday, February 3, 2011

Architecture Books & Bad Food; Loneliness & Humility

Sometime last fall or summer I was at spiritual direction and Suzanne was leading me through a Lectio Divina meditation. She asked me "What do you picture yourself handing over to Jesus?" I answered "architecture books and bad food." We both started laughing. Man has that image stayed with me. I giggle every time and I'm experiencing the truth of it unfold.

The New Year is a good time for purging and I know some people who have the bug right now. I have a friend, Sonja, who says when she starts cleaning out her closet she knows change is coming sometimes even before she knows what the change is and she's internally preparing for it by making external room. In December I started going through my books for the thousandth time, change was coming and I knew at least partially what it was. In September I came home from my last week at work with a box of books from work and had a shelf of architecture and art books at home. In order to make room internally and externally for the new vocation that is unfolding and to outwardly profess with my precious books that I wasn't going back to architecture. I didn't need these books anymore and other people might love them. So I kept maybe a half of dozen of those books that I couldn't bear to get rid of (most of them books about sacred spaces) and I gave the rest away to colleagues, students, friends, and neighbors. It felt really, really good. I feel lighter, more spacious, more firm, more concrete in my orientation shift and there's more room in my apartment now. One less box of books on the floor taking up physical, visual, and psychological space.

Saying goodbye.

Job seeking is proving to be a humbling experience. Wow, I am so unqualified for many, many positions. Thankfully this is good, even helpful information. It's clear I need to go back to school if I want some of the jobs out there, like chaplain positions, that I'm not qualified for no matter that I have the heart or desire for it or I have years of volunteer experience. It is hopeful that there are job postings to scan through everyday. What would I feel like if there was perceptibly "nothing" to even move toward?

I'm lonely. Not for friends or meaning or volunteer activities. I'm lonely for co-workers and one place to go everyday. I realized last week that I've been unemployed for about 5 months. When I decided to take time off and claim a Sabbath for myself I had a relatively easy time settling in to the time and feeling guilt free about relaxing. Relaxing and recharging and reconnecting with myself and others was the point. Now that I'm actively looking for a job that is changing and I feel some restlessness creeping in.

Twice this week dear people in my life have called and asked me to lunch, on them. Very nice. And people making themselves available for informational interviews and encouraging and clarifying conversations. I'm a little overwhelmed by all the ways I'm being spoken to and encouraged. Very thankful and as much as I might be lonely sometimes, I feel very full and a little scattered with my energy and focus. Inviting myself to relax in the midst of this time. To enjoy these sometimes slower, scattered days and to claim days for myself with no plans without feeling guilty. My job is to look for a job. That's enough. There's nothing else I can do to further "earn" this "time off." I don't have to be on Craig's list or making phone calls or setting up the next thing whenever I'm sitting still. I'm learning to receive offerings in this season - paid trips to the grocery store, lunches, hosting responsibilities, time to rest and sit in chapels mid-day, car rides to appointments and home from church, sharing of experience, wisdom, and connections.

Time to go bake my sister's birthday cake and enjoy the fact that it's not 11 pm after work with my eyes half crossed to do so.

Praying for all those spending time in hospitals - visiting, working, or lying in the bed. Praying and mindful of all those who have been unemployed for a heck of a lot longer than I have with mortgages to pay and children to feed and be present to, for all those who don't have unemployment benefits or living off them is near to impossible instead of just tight and requiring some restraint and humility.

Much Love, Em


  1. Amen to many things in your post.

    I hope to get down to the basement in the spirit of simplification.

    Creating space is a holy act. So is not immediately filling it.

    Love you sister and thanks for all the good vibes and mindfulness you put out there.

  2. love you em, and appreciate your reflections. cherish you dear girl.

  3. I was smiling about you the other day as I pulled down two of the architectural books you gave me, as I refused the urge to call you and ask about soffit framing. ;)

    So many luvy things about this post -- too many to recount. So glad to have time to sit with your thoughts today, albeit through a computer screen.