Saturday, September 20, 2014

Life as a Clergy Wife: Doing That Priest-y Thing?

I was having a rough Friday exacerbated, no doubt, by having been in five different time zones and multiple airports over the past two weeks. (This kind of schedule does not play well with fibromyalgia, something I do know but often pretend isn't true.)

I'd already had a meltdown that included crying. I'd also had a rapid-fire exchange of direct messages on Twitter with someone who was feeling my pain along with her own. I watched a #SharkCat video (see below). And then I called my husband at work, something I don't make a habit (habit, hahah, get it?) of doing.

During these early years of our marriage we've spent an incalculable amount of time trying to figure out how to identify, establish, and maintain reasonably healthy boundaries relative to work. We tried calling it "vocation." Using the word "vocation" underscored the sacred dimension and obscured the fact that most ministers work like dray horses. Maybe other couples can do it well, but having both of us in active ministry -- full time for him and nearly full time for me -- was trashing our marriage. And our friendship wasn't doing so well, either.

We talked near-constantly about about polity weirdness, rubrics, open Communion, the tyranny of combative church committees, ad orientem altars, crappy church signage, ecumenism gone bad, dysfunctional church websites, and the persistent resistance among some clergy to recognize the value of social media. This went on during the workday and at home after work.

We? Okay, mostly me. Honestly, if bitching about institutionalized religion were a spiritual practice, I'd be viewed as a diligent disciplined practitioner.

So not only did we agree to stop talking about church work, but that I'd rebalance my healthcare-church consulting portfolio. Along the way, I think I decided that I wouldn't call my husband, the priest, at work for anything more substantive than finding out if he was stopping off at the supermarket on his way home.

But I was a mess, so I called him at (church) work.
"You busy doing priest-y things?"
His other phone ringing in the background, but I knew he was absolutely present to and for me. He could tell I was upset. He listened. He said some stuff. He listened some more. I could feel my energy shift and lift.

Later, I realized that I'd called him not at his work, but really at his vocation.

Yes, he was being my husband, but he was indeed doing a priest-y thing. For that I was, and am, graced and grateful.