As I prepare to take my kids on a 2000 mile plane trip to the midwest to visit my post-college roommates before Illinois Roommate becomes Overseas Missionary Roommate, I have been thinking a lot of “galship” of one sort or another. The three of us women want to have a chance to talk, to catch up, to listen to one another, to pray together. I want my children to have a chance to play with their kids, kids I would like my children to think of as cousins of a sort (as we are lacking in that area).
These are the women who share age and stage with me. We were single together as roommates, single together finding our own ways, single together awhile longer. Then suddenly, within two years, all in our 30s, we were getting married, and then having children in our mid-late 30s. There are things we get because of our history together and because we are in our 40s and have small children (not to mention husbands who married for the first time in their mid-to-late 30s). We are family, and it will be good to be together.
In so many ways I have so many bonds with these women, and the center of our relationship with one another is our shared love for Christ and the church. We try to live our lives expressing the love of Christ, and we all are active in our church communities, all of us ministers in the priesthood of the believer sense; however, my church community is no longer the same as theirs.
While I was struggling to find a theological “fit” I came across the RevGals, and this community opened for me windows into a world where people were searching and struggling and wondering, people who have come from all faith walks, but who are united in Christ, but have come together around the one thing that became my breaking point: women in leadership in ministry. Before I ever had a church home with women in leadership, I was reading blogs and comments from women in ministry of all sorts, and not just about women’s issues, but blogs about life and family and God and theology and beauty and so on. It was a rich community, and sitting at home with small children trying to write a dissertation, I devoured it. These women were (are) deep thinkers and great writers. Martha (then Songbird) has always stood out, and she blogged about Lost! I read Magdalen’s Musings like it was a memoir, totally riveted and rooting for Pat (then Magdalen). While that blog is gone, she continues to tell her story on Facebook, and there is much gladness. Terri (then MomPriest) put me on her BlogRoll (how exciting that was!) and has been a faithful supporter of my blog. Silent who had a daughter my daughter’s age and a spouse a little older. And others, too many to mention by name. Following the RevGals, while there is a certain amount of agreement (everyone supports women in ministry), there is much diversity in about every other area from geography to theology. It’s a community with whom one can learn and think and grow. I have met two of the women (noting the community is not only women) in person: I had coffee with Marci in Boise last December, and I have met Elizabeth (A Musing Amma) a number of times because she is the RevDoc (my pastor)’s dear friend. A week ago I led worship as lector (and I had prepared the liturgy) beside Elizabeth as she preached in my own church. (Also, apropos of nothing, but a side note for Teri, Elizabeth’s kids went to school with Joss Whedon.)
Only because of my own insecurity–not because of anything on the blog or from any blog ring member–I have been a little shy about my status as a Pal rather than a Rev. I have been intrigued to discover a niche, a small group of us, mostly in academia, largely in English (or Quantum Physics), who are deeply involved in theological discovery and lay ministry, some of whom seem wholly satisfied in this sacred calling and some of whom continue–even in our 40s–to wonder about the lay/ordained divide, and what the Holy Spirit is calling in our lives: Kristin, Mary Beth, Jo(e), Michelle come to mind. The interweavings fascinate me. In California, the divide between academia and the church can be wide. To see other people negotiate the two (and also spouses and children and life) is reassuring and fascinating.
So GalShip has been an important part of my continued discernment and my continued negotiations of this wild 21st century life we have. Thanks be to God for friends of the heart, on-line and off. (I was going to say on-line and IRL, but I think the on-line community is part of my Real Life, and I am grateful.)