Deb, at Rev Gals Blog Pals, posed a good question. And she posed it early. I puzzled over it all night long. Search as I did–my whole life over–I couldn’t find a single instance of Supposedly Fun Things I Would Never EVER Do Again. It’s not that I don’t do fun things–I bike, I swim, I quilt, I walk the dogs, I travel–but I am somewhat cautious in what I do. And it’s not that I don’t have a list of things I’ll never do again. I have one of those. At the top of that list–I will never, ever break a gender barrier again. Three times is more than enough for a lifetime!
But Rev Deb’s question got me thinking about the wrong turns I’ve made in my life–what they were, why they happened, and the gifts at the center of the pain.
I was a senior in college. Long before I found feminism. I wondered what would happen to me. No longer a daughter. Not yet a wife. I met a graduate student in European Intellectual History. He wore a suede sport coat and talked knowingly of wine and cheese. He’d lived in Europe. Twice. Sophisticated. Exotic. Intellectual. Available. We married. I knew it was a mistake. It took nine years to undo that mistake.
Twenty years later, I made another wrong turn. A plumb job. A job in a prestigious school. The first woman in the job. Did I say it was a boys school? They weren’t at all female friendly. I was a token. I’m sure. I cried every day I worked there. Over a thousand days. It took years to heal that pain.
When I answered the questions for a church in wine country, I found myself thinking, “I bet I’m the only person applying for this job who isn’t interested in the location.” I’d been to the town. It was small. It was “cute”. It was parochial. I could hardly wait to get out of there. But still I applied for the job. Thought I was called to it. They said they wanted a change. They said they wanted to grow. But all along they kept asking, “What do you think of our town?” I should have known that a priest needs to love the people and the the places and things they hold dear. But I wanted to be a rector. I wanted their first woman priest. What a disaster it was–for me and for them. Fortunately, that mistake took only 800 days to fix!
Last night, as I was searching my life for things I would never again do, I began to wonder, “What was I thinking? What screw was loose in my head?” It’s ego that trips me up. The externals. The things that don’t really matter at all. When I focus on what I love to do and how I like to feel, spur of the moment works fine for me.
I met the love of my life on June 22. Seventeen days later we got engaged. My friends were shocked. My parents worried. Thirty-two years later we are still married. Happily. Still growing in love. He calls, I follow. I call, he follows.
A chance encounter, a quick phone call. Another almost spontaneous decision. I found my calling late, but not too late, in life. On the streets. With the homeless. Where I’m headed now. To grab a bite to eat with my friend Juan Diego.