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maturity in season of life. [two artists tuesday]

maturity with background

this came across my desk last week. “maturity in season of life.” part of a minister of music job description, i was struck by the unguarded language, the bow to what only time and experience can teach.  i have never seen this written as such before.  it was bracing in every GOOD way.  it was appreciatory.  it was a breath of fresh air.

in a society that seeks to remain youthful and puts less emphasis on maturity in season of life than on staying young, we need remember there’s a place for everyone.  some places require youth, fresh and breathing hard from the sprint.  other places recognize the need for the steadfast wisdom of the ages, a decision-maker-doer who brings a lifetime of positive and negative experiences and knows how to differentiate between them, has an intuition built on time and the ever-growing wealth of lessons.  the seesaw has room for both; the fulcrum can only balance with both.

as two artists living together, we are more than aware of the challenge of ageism, the challenge of time spent in our artistry and how that relates to value.  more than a thousand times we have each been admonished for thinking we need to be paid when we should be grateful for the “exposure” we are being “granted”.  more than a thousand times we have each been in a place where we have had to explain why our artistry needs to be financially rewarded just like anyone else’s work.

indeed, pay scales have been built to reflect time spent and job descriptions use verbiage like “pay is commensurate with experience.”  experience.  maturity:  “the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner.  being aware of the correct time and location to behave and knowing when to act, according to the circumstances and the culture of the society (read: job) one lives in (read: one works in).”

i recently was having a written messaging chat with a hard-working young adult whose job is in the arts.  with these challenges facing him every day, he said that people do not realize that “they’re paying me to know what to do if things don’t go well.”  intuition.  working on the fly based on training, knowledge and an ever-building bank of experiences.   he will continue to face that challenge; it will only deepen.  how is that maturity measured?  how will he be paid for that maturity, for that which he cannot describe and for which others cannot fathom?  for some reason, in this society, it is easier to answer that question if you are doing a numbers job, something seemingly more concrete, more measurable, more quantifiable.

but maturity in season of life touches others as well and we have dear friends who have been ‘let go’ from their jobs simply because of their age.  now, their companies would never testify to that and are careful to avoid such language – for that would set them up for all kinds of legal problems – but it has been clear to our friends, struggling to find a new way in later days of their lives.  few and far between are those who are able to benefit by pointing out the error of their ways to the company that is undervaluing a later human-on-this-earth season.  other friends are fortunate enough to be working somewhere that has deeply valued the long time they have spent in their work and these friends have retired with spoken words of gratitude and wishes of continued good living.  where is the fulcrum?

in this particular document that came across my desk, the whole phrase read, “maturity in season of life and maturity in ministry experience.”  shockingly, they are seeking this as a qualifier and they are willing to pay for it.  speaking directly to that qualifier that beautifully honors the wisdom of the ages, there are things that, as a minister of music at 19 i did not know.  there are things that, as a minister of music at 32 i did not know.  likewise, as a 30-years-as-a-minister-of-music at days-away-from-60, of course there are things i do not know.

what i DO know is that every experience i have had as a minister of music has built upon the last.  instead of a chasm where learnings have dropped rapid-fire into an abyss, i have learned what the important stuff is and how to attempt to keep those things foremost.

like anyone in any job, mastery is commensurate with time spent, with growth in that work, and yes, without exception, with maturity in season of life.

“take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.” (desiderata)

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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be brave. make a difference.

brave-poster-jpegabout a year ago our church community made a decision to state in no uncertain terms that it is a “reconciling in christ” church. this was a momentous occasion, a brave declaration; the closest church of the same denomination that is also RIC is in the next town north, a location maybe a half hour away.

the language used to enter into the church bylaws was: “We acknowledge that throughout history the Christian church has at times condemned and excluded people because of race, culture, age, gender, economic status, disability or sexual orientation. While the church has made progress in being open to many groups, there continues to be condemnation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons from the community of faith, or at least, a tolerance of such condemnation and exclusion through silence. We believe such actions are inconsistent with Christ’s teachings. Trinity is a community of faith-keeping and faith-seeking people who affirm that every person has worth as a unique creation made in the image of God. We recognize, celebrate and give thanks for the many diverse gifts of God among us. We declare ourselves to be a Reconciling in Christ congregation, welcoming into the full life and ministry of the church persons of every race, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and economic status. We commit to model a community of faith and spirit that works toward openness and understanding, offering justice, healing and wholeness of life for all people. We believe that through our diversity, all can grow and practice a unity of faith that transcends our differences.”

and i am so proud.

but it brings to mind some questions for me. this inclusivity and acceptance that we are “officially” announcing seems like a no-duh (for lack of a better term; it seems incongruous to me to attach flowery language to something so very basic) for a church community. it IS my understanding of a church community. what else could be more important than acceptance? what are we Actually learning from any religious organization’s underpinnings? why does it require bravery?

before i took the job of minister of music at our present church, i inquired about the attitude(s) around LGBT membership and involvement, within the church general membership and within staff and clergy. it was important to me – no, not important – it was vital to me that i would be at a place of inclusion where people did not draw boundaries because of race, sexual orientation, financial status… i would not attend a place where my own child would be looked down upon because of homophobic attitudes (read: fears.)   even now i find it incredible that i would have had to ask this question, but i know better than to think that all churches are about loving all people. why do you have to be brave to say this?

some of my friends will leave this week to march in the women’s march in washington dc, taking place next saturday. i am unable to go to this, although i will march in my mind with them. i do feel like i step in this march everyday, however, because i believe in the equality of gender, the equality of people’s sexual orientation choices…equality period. as the mom of an amazing son who is gay, (see previous post: the right place) i wholeheartedly embrace his happiness, his inclusion, his bravery to live authentically, anywhere he goes. i embrace this for both of my children. why would i not generalize this to all people?

carol suggested that i enter my design using david’s painting and the text “women. we’ve got backbone.” for poster usage at this march. (see previous post: women. we’ve got backbone.) although this poster is not among the posters that will be distributed at this march, i do believe that this backbone is what will help grow and change the world in times moving forward. the active pursuit of what we feel is right. the active pursuit of what we feel is just. as women and as men who want to be proponents of equality and opponents of hatred we need to stand up – with backbone – and make sure that we are not voiceless.

that starts at home. in our own families. in our communities. in our churches. in our states. in our country. oh yes. in our country.

you make a difference: iTunes: kerri sherwood

brave.  for products that reinforce your bravery, click here

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