Sunday, August 28, 2011

Don't get the bends...

Last night I dreamt of water. I was deep sea diving with a group of people. There was a submarine underwater that was going out of commission despite it being in good condition. This was confusing to me but I went ahead and put it in it's watery grave beneath the ocean none the less. After it had been placed in it's spot, I continued deeper into the ocean with my cohort. We swam down a long deep tunnel. There were mosses and coral growing on the sides of the tunnel. There were fish and eel swimming around.

The further deeper I got in the ocean, the darker it became. It was beautiful and eerie in the mysterious depths. At some point pretty far beneath the surface, my oxygen tank began to have problems and I was having trouble breathing. I realized that I needed to resurface as soon as possible. I began to panic as I realized that I didn't have enough oxygen to reach the surface. I tried to calm myself and stop myself as I knew I couldn't swim directly to the surface or else I would get the bends. As i fought the urge to swim as quickly as possible, I felt a presence with me holding me down, not allowing me to surface too quickly. It was a comforting presence. I couldn't see it--it was as if it was right behind me but when I turned I saw nothing.

I struggled with breath but knew I would be safer if I paused here and trusted.


I awoke grateful to be back in my room with an abundance of oxygen around me. Seems like a fitting dream to have the day before one begins graduate school. Admittedly, I am feeling quite nervous about starting school tomorrow. It seems like this huge undertaking--3 years of study, a whole lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of love, a lot of trust. I think the trust is the key piece of what I need to lean into right now.

It's been quite a journey getting here. I have felt called to ministry of some sort since I was a teenager. It's been hard to imagine how to answer that call in our Christian dominated society. I've stepped up in the pagan communities I'm involved with, Reclaiming and Free Activist Witch Camp (now known as Free Cascadia Witch Camp). I've stepped up at the Wolf Creek Naraya, a dance for all people. I've stepped up in local smaller ceremonies. I've stepped up at UUSFserving as a worship associate. I've stepped up in my activist communities with Pride at Work,SEIU, and worked as a faith based organizer at SFOP.

All of this work has felt like an answer to this call. I'm so grateful for these communities and the ways that they have held me and continue to hold me on this journey.
I am grateful for the beautiful and the challenging things that they have taught me.
I am grateful for the ways in which these communities have helped to shed light on the next step of this journey.

It feels like it's been such a journey getting here but I think that's how everyone feels when they begin divinity school. I applied to a UU seminary three years ago. I was accepted. I deferred for a year and ultimately decided not to go because the school was extremely expensive with very few financial assistance options and I was working with a story about myself that I was too much of a freaky queer pagan to have any place in seminary. So I went to South America to support the Mapuche struggle to reclaim the land of their ancestors instead. I came home and went to the mountains to study plant medicine with some incredibly gifted elders, Karyn Sanders and Sarah Holmes.

Somewhere along the way,

listening to the story of the elders who have blessed my life
sitting with the plants as my teachers

listening to what was in my heart

I realized that I needed to try again to make seminary work.

So I applied to the Pacific School of Religion --a Christian school, but one that is becoming known in some pagan circles as the place to go if you want to get the credential needed to "pass" in the mainstream world. (Pass meaning getting a job as a chaplain or in some sort mainstream community institution)

So I applied, and I got in, and with generous support from the school, I begin tomorrow.


And so here I am. Dreaming of loosing my breath as I dive into the deep end of this ocean.

I've been looking over the classes required for the MDiv. It seems like there's more Christian classes than when I looked the first time. That part makes me nervous. I'm not a Christian and aside from the Catholic baptism I received in order to placate my grandparents, I never have been. I've taken two years of Sunday school about the bible, when I was in elementary school.

Is it any wonder I'm dreaming about the depths of the ocean?

I went to visit the school campus this week and wandered into the school's museum, and who was there on the wall but Harry Hay, one of the founders of the radical fairies and a collection of images from an exhibit about a reclaiming witch camp! The photo was part of an exhibit about "Alternative Queer Spiritual Communities". I figured if ever there was a sign that I'm on the right path, this has got to be it.

I've just got to remember to breathe and that moving too quickly, no matter how scary things seem, might give you the bends.
And so I ground into my heart
to listen.

I move slowly and
and I breathe.

Harry Hay in his later years on the walls at PSR.
The reflection of the old church windows shows above his head.

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