August 15th was my five year anniversary at First Baptist Church of Austin, Texas. Three days later, I quit my job.
I officiated my first funeral when I was 10 years old. It was for my cat, Thisbe, who belonged to my parents when they married eighteen years earlier. Twenty-one years later, I officiated my second funeral for my uncle in Arizona who drank himself to death. Maybe I always knew I would be a minister. Maybe not.
At the dinner table one night, in those same years as the cat funeral, I announced that I wanted to be one of two things when I grew up: a preacher or president.
"Oh you can't be president," my concerned younger sister told me. "They'll kill you."
Well, probably. But not for any reasons that my sister understood at the time. All we knew as little kids was that of the four presidents we knew: Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy and Reagan (I don't think either of us could remember Carter), only one of them hadn't been shot at while in office. Presidents died. We, the people, killed them.
And If I were president instead of Obama or Bush I or II or Clinton or Carter or Reagan, I probably would be shot for being a socialist or a liberal or a hippie... and for being a woman I suppose (the only certifiable proof of the aforementioned offenses).
So I became a preacher instead.
Because in the pulpit it's okay to wear a nose ring and cowgirl boots, and say blessed are the peacemakers, and tell people they need to give 10% of their income away.
Not always, but sometimes. And fortunately I was at a church where sometimes preachers can do that.
But now its time to fill in the gaps that I overlooked as a child. Mostly as a kid I think I saw myself making speeches. I loved listening to our preacher, a man who told the same stories over and over again for 30 years, and who ran marathons in short, pink running shorts. And I loved President Reagan because I knew nothing about him other than he had been an actor in the movies. And I saw his face on the TV screen and knew that I was an actress (there wasn't the PC term "actor" used universally for both genders or transgenders of performers yet), so surely I could act and make dramatic speeches too.
As an adult, I know there's more to ministering than preaching and more to the presidency than speaking in Congress, and so I'm choosing another route.
Operation Strange Bird has begun.
I know I am one. I'm an ordained Baptist minister who preaches peace, pushes gay rights, teaches Old Testament (with a little bit of American literature thrown in), acts in local theater (and once played a mini-skirt-wearing Mary Magdalene), writes blogs (both public and secret for the discretion of her family), has never married, but dated a long list of men that is almost laughable (and boy do we laugh), suffers but survives a mental health disorder, and who would someday love to be a lounge singer.
Do I belong in the church?
Should I be running the church?...
I'm tired of running.
So I'm resting, and writing, and applying to PhD programs in Southern Literature, and officiating weddings, and reflecting, and auditioning, and exercising, and doing some guest performing, and hopefully visiting my grandparents and sisters whom I haven't seen since Christmas.
And most of this because I've learned so much in the past five years at FBC and so much in the past 32 years on this planet we call earth. And now it's time to spread my little wings, as patched together as they may be of ambitions and dreams and maybe-this'll-works, and try to fly. Even just a few feet would be okay.
And wherever I land I land. And then I will try again. And hopefully somewhere in there I'll get a little more perspective on my life and a little more direction. And perhaps with the help of some Wind maybe things will pick up enough that I'll actually soar, and someday land on my feet.
And if not, there's always the classifieds. Someone's bound to need a blessing for a dead cat.