Changes in our future.
It is Holy Week.
This week, as long as I have worked in ministry, has been a busy time.
I'm never the busiest minister, but life is very full.
This year Holy Week has a bitter and sweet feel. (Yes bittersweet but the bitter is as strong as the sweet and often the word doesn't convey that sense.)
Here is the bitter:
Sometime in mid-May (or later, or earlier) I will be laid off.
My place of employment informed me of this a month ago.
But in that time I have learned NOTHING of the details.
Oh wait, that isn't true. I have learned that whatever sick time I have I will NOT be paid for it.
I don't know when my last day is.
I don't know if I will receive any severance.
I don't know if I will have any benefits that last into my departure.
I don't know anything.
It has been a terrible process. It has felt dehumanizing and brutal in the way that they have dealt with me. If it wasn't for my students, and the fear that then I wouldn't get a a severance that we desperately need I would just leave.
It is also deeply painful because I was selected as the person in our department to be laid off because I am the jack of all trades. I do a lot of random works and a lot of Catholic work that doesn't HAVE TO happen. It means that my job is the easiest to spread around to other folks and to get rid of.
I have done profoundly good work and ministry at the place I work at. I am relevant. I can talk about complicated theology in understandable ways. I have been a part of the shifting culture from quietly LBGTQ friendly to loudly supportive of all sorts of vulnerable populations on campus.
I am a fucking good minister. I know that I am. I am also a VERY Catholic and very progressive and very feminist minister. SeattleU has never known how to be very Catholic and isn't making any changes to be that. It clings to it's Jesuit roots without remembering that Jesuits are Catholics.
It doesn't matter though what I have done. I am cut. I am out. I am discarded by an institution.
I saw the bullseye on my back. I just knew, in the scheme of things, it was going to be me. Alas, it is.
That means that Sean and I had talked and talked and talked and talked (and because it is Sean and I) talked some more about this possibility. In fact, we even sorted through the finances and figured out we can probably make it work if I pick up little bits of extra income and of course if we aren't doling out money for childcare.
The fact of the matter I was approaching telling my supervisor that I would volunteer to be laid off because it was looking better than some of the other options in our future. Before I was able to communicate that she told me...
So with some fear and trembling, but also some excitement and eagerness I am going to be home with the kiddos for awhile. I am not looking for full time work. Childcare in our community is already very messy (Island living, no daycare, lots of dysfuntional folks) and we aren't into it.
I am going to (try) to spend some time working on writing and also take the time that our kids need with some school support. I would love to take on some spiritual directees, maybe pursue an online doctorate in ministry, maybe facilitate retreats etc.
Above all, I think we are excited to be in charge of our childcare choices in a way that we haven't been before. Since I went back to work when Junia was born (5 weeks) there has been a desperateness about childcare. The fear of it falling apart has loomed large in our reality. And, in a half dozen ways it has. We are sick and tired of this set up. And so, delightfully, we get to change it.
Can I also just say that this is all very stupid? Seattle is becoming one of the most expensive cities in the US (the world actually) and an Institution like SeattleU is not going to be able to afford to hire mature staff people with experience (and families) for very much longer. They are skewing their staff younger by the economic realities of the city they are in. It's so foolish that they wouldn't consider this.
Also---the utter lack of creativity in helping the staff imagine this process is just stupid. People have their own energy and possibility in this. In now way was I invited to think creatively or in a new way. What is an educational institution of it doesn't let people think outside of itself.
At the end of the day there is a lot of pain in this process. That pain is louder than the quiet joy that hides underneath. A tremendous amount of pain is related to my ego- my sense of who I am and what I do is changing. Even my ability to summarize who I am and what I am about is changing.
At the end of the day though, especially when I pray about this, I sense that my concerns about all of this are not God's. At the end of the day the place and people I minister with and for are not as central as I have held them to be. At this, is very consoling.