Mr. M and I were talking about finances today-- my boggled, messy, huge, late student loans.
We were also talking about the expense of seminary (and how that point will be moot if I can't untangle my student loans enough to get my transcripts released). The parish doesn't have money to help, the diocese doesn't have money to help. The seminaries expect that you should enter school without debt-- something very unlikely among college grads in this country today.
A nagging ache has accompanied my call: I want to serve God, but I don't know how to assume this responsibilty of these costs. I don't have any idea how to pay for it, and it's been a silent cloud of doom for literally years now.
I spoke with my parish priest about it once. He told me not to worry about it, that these things work out. Never responded to my concern about it again. I appreciate his optimism, but I also know that his family is mired in debt.
It is not a lush life to which I feel called. But I worry that this is just another symptom of the church's illness-- the way clergy are expected to debt in their time, their energy, their finances-- with no real institutional support.
But it's not just righteous indignation. I'm really worried, and disappointed, and I feel very small. So small, in fact, that I've felt really unable to take on this challenge.
It's a good thing that Mr. M doesn't feel that way. It's a good thing that he's got a bit more faith and hope (and likely love) than I have right now.
Because he looked at me this evening and blurted out the following radical concept: How about we stop being afraid of this? How about we just plunge in, and start being more assertive about what should be done? Calling the people we need to, understanding the ideas we need, and finding out what our resources are? How about we get on top of this and start believing in it instead of caving under it?
It's a powerful thought, and more than that, it's full of hope that I haven't felt in a long time. I'm not sure he knows how much faith is starting to seep out, but it's humbing for me to watch at the moment. Reminds me a lot of what Barbara Brown Taylor says about the creeds-- that sometimes they're valuable not because we believe them, but because we need others to carry that weight when we're not strong enough.
Thank you, Mr. M.
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