Friday, July 20, 2007

friday five:: looking back, looking forward

One of the RevGals has posted an extremely thought-provoking Friday Five this week. I hope I can do it justice in the small amount of time I have while Daniel naps.

1. Share a moment/ time of real encouragement in your journey of faith
When I took my job at the Catholic paper here, I had only recently begun exploring my spiritual life again after spending most of my 20s questioning things and rejecting much of what I had been taught. It was a real leap of faith, and I was afraid of getting caught up in a conservative, constricting, rosary-saying environment that wouldn't feel nurturing in a way that I needed. But when I moved to Minnesota and started my new job, I found myself experiencing moments of grace around every turn. I was reading books and interviewing writers and spiritual people who spoke to me and affirmed my decision to move here in an almost uncanny way. In my personal life, I was very lonely that first year, as I knew practically no one. But my work life was so spiritually enriching, and I feel very grateful for that.

2. Do you have a current vision / dream for your work/ family/ministry?
This is tough because I'm in such a place of transition, especially with my work. I've been working on an interesting profile recently about a woman who is a poverty activist, and I've been thinking about how writing articles that might inspire other people to help make a difference is important to me. I've also read a couple of articles about Mariane Pearl, whose book A Mighty Heart (which I read a couple of years ago) has been made into a movie starring Angelina Jolie (who is also a friend of Mariane). I admire the way Mariane has dealt with the repercussions of her husband's death and continued to work as a journalist herself, highlighting the work women are doing around the world. So that has been inspiring to me as a vision or dream to strive for as a writer. (Of course, I am still toying with the library science idea in the back of my head, too ...)

3.Money is no object and so you will.....
Well, affordable housing is on my brain right now, so ... I'd like for us to buy a slightly larger house — only slightly because we don't need a huge house, but a little more room to spread out would be nice. And I would buy a home for each of my siblings and donate more money to programs that build affordable housing.

4. How do you see your way through the disappointments? What keeps you going?
I saved this question until last because it requires me to think for a few minutes. I think one thing that keeps me going when I've been through a major disappointment, in the words of the Beatles, is "a little help from my friends." I'm lucky in that I've always had supportive, caring friends (sisters, too) who let me cry on their shoulders and remind me of my value when I need to be reminded of it. I think I also have the capacity to remind myself, in the words of Julian of Norwich, edited to correct her quotation that "all shall be well," at least eventually. A sense of empathy enables me, most of the time, to see a disappointing situation through the eyes of the person who has disappointed me. And I cannot forget the healing power of putting my troubles in God's hands and asking for grace, strength, courage and wisdom to pull me through.

5. How important are your roots?
My ancestors come from an independent, pioneer stock (before them, German, Swiss, French-Canadian, English), and my personal roots are in the suburbs of Portland, Ore. While they are important to me to a certain extent, I think I have tried to forge my own sense of personhood in my life that does not rely on a sense of my roots as part of my self-definition. Be that as it may, I do think my roots are ingrained to some extent; I am independent and an explorer of sorts, like some of my forebearers, and the older I get, the more I realize that I share some values that run deep in my family.

2 comments:

Ellen said...

1. Share a moment/ time of real encouragement in your journey of faith
The summer I graduated from college I went to church a few times with my family and found out about a new Catholic young adults group in the Portland area and I went to its first Theology on Tap series. That was for me was the sip that made me realize how spiritually thirsty I really was, and so my journey started toward healing and growth. I chose to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation the next spring and I have not looked back since.
After that, however, the deepest point of awakening for me so far was one night I was so angry about something that was going on, which sparked more anger about other bigger-picture things, that I hurled all my Bibles and Rosaries against my bedroom wall in an apartment I shared with a girlfriend, leaving a mark that was still there when we moved out. I cried and fought with God but eventually left to visit a friend at her house. But before I left I picked up the items and put them back where they were on my shelf, feeling bad but not ready to completely atone for mistreatment of holy objects like that. I was numb but knew later when I prayed about that incident that he wasn't angry for it, but that he lead my like a loving parent to a deeper spiritual level, as if turning to him with all vulnerability and honesty after an incident like that was a rite of passage.


2. Do you have a current vision / dream for your work/ family/ministry?
To live as an example of my faith so that more and more people open up to their inner spirituality and realize that organized religion is not as bad as people say it is.

3.Money is no object and so you will.....
Take my parents around Europe and North America and hire an in-home aid to take care of my brothers while they're gone. I will also help my siblings with what they want and give to the church that has lost so much $ from these priest sex abuse scandals. Then for myself, I would buy a home, new car and top-quality wardrobe basics that are otherwise too expensive for me to afford, but would be a worthwhile investment.

4. How do you see your way through the disappointments? What keeps you going?
True friends, and my faith. There is a song that says "there is beauty in the breakdown," and I really believe God thinks we are beutiful no matter what stage of breakdown we are in, and he is closest to us when we feel the most isolated and angry at him.

5. How important are your roots?
Nothing is more important than roots and my German heritage! Our ancestors left their livelihood in Decatur County, Ind., traveled the Oregon trail and settled outside Portland. I am a fourth generation Oregonian and I don't know many others here who are. My dream is to one day drive around Decatur County and find some old genes, and also the Alcase Larain (sp?) area between France and Germany, where more ancestors came from.

Anonymous said...

1. Share a moment/ time of real encouragement in your journey of faith. THAT'S TOUGH - I DON'T KNOW IF I'VE HAD ACTUAL MOMENTS - JUST AN ONGOING FAITH SINCE CHILDHOOD. THIS FAITH HASN'T ALWAYS BEEN STRONG - IN FACT, I'M REALLY NOT SURE I BELIEVE IN GOD. I FIND THIS NON-BELIEF EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTING; I DESPISE THE IDEA OF NO GOD. BUT MY EXPERIENCES AND INFLUENCES TELL ME THAT IT MAY BE A REALISTIC FACT.

2. Do you have a current vision / dream for your work/ family/ministry?
I'M PROUD OF HOW MY SISTERS HAVE ALL, IN THEIR OWN WAY AND OWN TIME, HAVE COME BACK TO THE LORD. MY DREAM IS TO SEE THEIR FAITH CONTINUE. I KNOW THIS SOUNDS STRANGE IN LIGHT OF MY ANSWER TO #1; IT'S A STRANGENESS I CAN'T REALLY EXPLAIN.

3.Money is no object and so you will.....
QUIT WORKING AND SPEND MY TIME IMPROVING MY VIOLIN SKILLS.

4. How do you see your way through the disappointments? What keeps you going? ANTIDEPRESSANTS. NOTHING ELSE SEEMS TO WORK. I DON'T HAVE A STRONG SUPPORT GROUP. CHEMICALS SEEM TO DO THE TRICK.

5. How important are your roots? I'M VERY PROUD OF OUR GERMAN ROOTS. OUR LAST NAME, "AST," MEANS "TREE BRANCH."