Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our three lives: Public, personal, private

I write weekly letters to my teenage granddaughter. She is a survivor. As with nearly all teenagers she can use emotional support of her family. Sometimes I share here parts of what I write to her. Here is one from this week, modified slightly to read here.

V, another topic that I wanted to write about concerns the three lives that each of us lives. This description has been resonating with me the past few weeks. Each of us has three lives at the same time, our public life, our personal life, and our private life.

Our public life is that which we share with mostly everyone. For you I know that it includes that you are married to Douglas, that you are Russian or come from Russia, that you are smart, and young and beautiful. Some people do not share that they are smart. Others don’t think of themselves as beautiful. For those people they have other qualities that they share with most everyone.

Our personal life is usually shared with those we love, including dear, close friends. In my message at the top of this letter that I sent to my family I include thoughts and feelings about my personal life. I would not and do not share that with customers at the ministry-which-is-the-Episcopal-Bookstore or with most of the people at church or in the community choir, or at the boxing gym.

Our private lives include those thoughts, and perhaps actions, that we do not share with anyone. They include what we think and know that we should not say out loud. At each age in our lives I think that the private thoughts change. What a middle school kid would not want to be caught dead saying may be perfectly acceptable to that same person at age 40 or 50. I think that it is our private lives that are what we share with a counselor or therapist when real work is getting done on our individual issues. If with a counselor we only share the public and personal lives then it is a waste of time for both people.

Each of us works at deciding what thoughts we share as part of each life. I see some people who share personal stuff on Facebook (and for me Twitter is worse at this) that they shouldn’t share. Other people act out in public in ways that I think are at least personal and perhaps private. I know a man in his twenties who scratches his crotch and such when with a group of people. Perhaps he did not learn to not do that in public. I often have wondered about that about him.

And, there is, I think, the constant decision of how much of our private thoughts to share with our spouse or family. You may see in my message to my family that I waited to write to them. I did not want to take away from my brother the trauma that he is going through about his prostate cancer. Finally I decided, with some help from Nancy, that I should share it with them.

Some of our dreams fit into the category of “do I share that with my best friend/spouse or is it better not to?” Further, I think that for some people it is the old slippery slope. I would be embarrassed to share THAT with Nancy so I won’t. Then later something else comes up, “Oh, I would be embarrassed to share that with her.” After awhile there is a long list of things one does not share with anyone. The dam holding the water which are our personal thoughts gets fuller and fuller. Sometimes the dam breaks and all sorts of stuff come out, most of it should have come out much earlier and it would have been easier to deal with it earlier, but I think that is part of our nature.

Perhaps there are other personalities that share way too much. Their private dam does not fill up. I’ve met some whom I have thought should have raised their dam a little bit higher, like “I really did not want to know that personal item about you.!”

In my humble opinion we each decide what to share with others in our public lives, in our personal lives, and what we keep to ourselves in our private lives.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Borg & Crossan at Diocesan Convention

I'm writing from our Diocesan Convention in Vancouver WA where on this second and final day bleary-eyed exhibitors still enjoy talking with delegates and guests.

During convention sessions when few delegates visit our display I've been reading and enjoying The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Birth, by Marcus Borg and John Crossan. In this volume we learn more about the Christmas story of the Bible, of the Christian tradition, and as if fits our time and culture.

Borg and Crossan show us the vitality of the Christmas stories that are beyond and outside of factual history, and beyond and outside of mythic/legend fiction. The authors instruct us in scholarly biblical theology that differs from the popular cultural depiction of the Christmas birth narratives of today. Borg and Crossan write thoughtful commentary that is very appropriate to read during Advent as we prepare for Christmas.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The parish surfing picnic

Grace Episcopal Church, San Marcos CA sponsored a church outing and picnic a week ago Sunday. I was blessed to be able to attend it. It was unlike any church picnic that I have attended in my life. It was a surfing picnic.

About thirty members of the congregation, of all ages, drove about 20 minutes from their church building directly after the main worship service last Sunday morning, to a public beach in Carlsbad CA. They brought food, surfboards, boogie boards, beach chairs, and beach towels with them. The parish banner on its staff was one of the first items on the beach. It informed the participants as well as the others that this was a church gathering.

Perhaps a dozen surfboards and as many boogie boards were brought by a few of the church members for the participants of the party to use. Two older men, Tom and Gary, who have surfed all of their lives encouraged everyone by giving instruction to groups and individuals. They did not hotdog by showing off all of the fancy maneuvers that they could perform. It was clear that they were there to help others, to encourage others to get out in the water and have fun safely.

Throughout the afternoon young kids to senior citizens picked up a surfboard or boogie board and gave the surf a try. The usual activity was to take an idle board out in the surf and play and practice with it for awhile. Then the person would bring it back to the party on the beach, put down the board, stop by the refreshments and get something to drink or a hotdog and some chips to eat. There would be conversing with others and watching others have fun in the surf, then, when the spirit moved them, they would pick up a different board and go back out to try something else.

Those on the shore, while conversing, watched the participants in the surf. There were cheers for even small successes and laughter frequently. Some of the surfers would end their ride or their fall with a graceful bow to the cheers and laughter on the beach.

I am confident in stating that a good time was had by all.

Ocean surf is a few hours away from my home parish in Seattle. Surfing is not a popular activity in my home parish. We don’t have surfing picnics after worship on Sunday. I wish that we did. Surely God was present with Grace Church at the beach in Southern California last week.

Posting here had been delayed, but I'm back

I have not posted a blog in too long a period of time. There are a few reasons for this. Most of them revolve around reluctance to write drivel. There seems to be so much drivel written these days and I have not wanted to add to it.

One solution that may work for me involves choosing a specific person, in my head, and write what may make sense to that one person. If others “listen in” it is acceptable to me, at least now. It’s not so much that I have nothing to say. I keep thinking and continue to have a dialog, at least in my head. It is more difficult, I think, for introverts, and especially male introverts, to write their thoughts to groups of others.

One way I can get past the tendency to keep my thoughts to myself is to begin writing to so-and-so. Perhaps that is you today. What do you think about that?

Whatever the reason, I am now back in a different frame of mind and intend to keep posting to this blog.