Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012: Changing Tides

2012 is going to be a year of change for me. In May, I will graduate from graduate school, launching the first time since I was five that I haven't either been in school, or trying to get into school. After that, I will have to take my licensing exam to become a licensed social worker. It's now the first day of February, but a fair bit of change has already been occuring.

On the work front, I'm still working a little less. One co-worker got arrested for some kind of outstanding warrant - while he was out with one of the patients on a consult at a local dentist office. He'd been there for a couple of months at that point, at least. Goes to show what kind of background checks they do at this place.

In school, this is going to be the toughest semester yet, I do believe. I'm taking two classes - a family therapy class, and a "capstone" class, which is basically full of case studies where we have to try to apply everything we've learned the last three years to case scenarios. In my internship, I only have about 2-3 individual clients, leaving for a lot of downtime and wondering how much I'm really learning in the long run, especially in relation to what we're studying this semester, involving working with families and couples, none of which I have ever done. On the other hand, we are doing three group therapy sessions instead of just one: on Tuesdays we do two group sessions for elementary school kids (the first session I work with the kids, and the second session I sit in with the parent support group); on Thursdays we do a preteen group focused on dealing with things such as bullying. 

I accomplished something I have wanted to do for years. I stood up to my mother more than I ever have.

It all started on facebook. My mom, who doesn't even really watch football, made some status comments praising the wonders of the super-Christian Tim Tebow. One of her friends, another Southern Baptist, commented, in short, that he felt Tebow used his Christianity for attention. I, personally agree with him. Upon this revelation, my mom called me and attempted to start her typical guilt trip. I was trying to unwind and watch television, and was really not in the mood. So, I told her, "I'm hanging up now." and did just that. Later that night, she messaged me, again on facebook. She had seen where I include in my religious views "Panentheist", and she already knew of my views on Buddhist meditation. So, long story short, she accused me of being in a cult, citing badly worded and ill-informed fundamentalist websites that talk about the evils of Pantheism(she was, like many do, getting Pantheism and Panentheism confused). I explained to her what Panentheism actually is, pointing out the content that was wrong on the website. I finished it by reminding her that I'm 29 years old, and by the time she was my age she was married with two kids. I explained that I'm almost done with graduate school, I pay all of my own bills except my cellphone, and I've therefore clearly established myself as a functioning, capable adult, and should be treated like one. Her response was basically her usual guilt trip. She provided a version of "all parents still treat their adult children like kids, my mom still tells me how to drive" (she clearly could not understand the distinction between reminding your adult child not to run a red light, and accusing your adult child of being in a cult simply for believing differently). She finished with a reminder that she risked her life to get me away from my birthfather, helped me move various times, and begging me not to shut her out of my life (in my view, we both essentially did that to each other years ago). At that point, I didn't even bother really responding anymore. 

At first I was angry at her (although maybe a little proud of myself), but now the whole thing just makes me sad. Sad that she has to go back 29 years to come up with something meaningful she did for me. Sad that we'll never have a real relationship beyond an occasional facebook post and a five minute phone call twice a month. Sad that I can never be open with her about anything deep and meaningful, the way I see other families being. And I feel sorry for her, that she's so scared to expand her horizons, that she  put herself in this narrow little bubble and refuses to accept or acknowledge anything that could burst it, even if that means only pretending to have a real relationship with her son, rather than actually having one.

At the first Celtic Spirituality meeting, which I attend through my church, we met some new members. One of those members described herself as a "Zen Druid", and another also described herself as Druidic like myself. The latter I had met previously, as she attended a Sunday School class, and described Jesus as one of the spirits that visited her during her Reiki training, which she received at Stonehenge. It was quite an interesting meeting, and affirming to see others who think just as "out of the box" spiritually as I do.

This past Sunday, my church voted in our new pastor. He was voted in unanimously by all 204 members who attended.The timing was interesting, and seemed like a humorous joke from the Universe. We voted him in a couple of weeks after that argument with my mom. The new minister is very involved in Christian mysticism, Soto Zen Buddhism, religious naturalism, and interfaith works. Basically all of the things that she was using to accuse me of being in a cult. To make the irony even better, he's coming from a liberal Baptist church, in Texas. Four words I didn't even know could exist in the same sentence! He is also very strong in promoting LGBT equality, and seems dedicated to raising awareness of our liberal Christianity amidst the conservative sea that is South Carolina. I'm very much looking forward to him.

Today I spent some much needed relaxation time by the sea, and realized another change. I feel myself shifting my spiritual focus a little more in my panentheistic view. I'm not entirely sure where I stand on the deities, angels, etc. that I have been following, and where they fit in my panentheistic worldview. In the past, I've viewed it along the same lines of what is called in Paganism as "soft polytheism". But I find myself thinking of the Divine in more generic, truly Panentheistic terms, thinking more of the One Spirit that is within, part of, and beyond all. So I'm beginning to work through that as well. Throughout the process, I will need to keep in mind to focus on what makes sense to me, and not fall into previous habits of trying to find "somewhere to fit in", trying to find a label for my beliefs.

Yes, 2012 is going to be interesting indeed.

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