Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday, 12 March-on the rez

I want to begin by saying thanks to everyone who has offered their commiserations regarding my last entry.  I'm fine, really - I basically just needed to blow off some steam and process a bit, so apologies to anyone who were worried I was going off the deep end (there are only about five people who ever read this blog, so to get the number of replies that I did makes me think that I overdid it).

I've been back in Klagetoh, in the Navajo Nation, for almost a week now, on a spring break trip with a group of SLU students, and it has been wonderful.  Not only have the students been great, not only has the schedule for the week worked flawlessly, but being in this place has been just what I needed to realign my perspective about not getting into Boston College or Harvard.  All of the game playing of academe, which I typically invest myself in far too heavily, just doesn't matter out here - I'm not going to say there is no game playing, but it is a very different kind of game...I remember reading something from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, who spends a good portion of his year in a hermitage: he says something about how when he is in there he feels like if he never read another book or gave another talk, it would be ok.  Not because he is ignoring the world or navel-gazing, mind you, but because he sees the sufficiency of life being present to itself, not having to prove anything or think that reading any number of books will deal with the real problem to be solved in the human heart.  No one out here cares about how many books I have or have not read, how many degrees I do or do not have, what schools I did or did not get into.  Life here is lived on a much different scale: an adult child going to prison, an elderly person needing firewood chopped for her wood stove, a parent who comes by the mission because she has run out of food for her children or can't pay her electric bill.  The utter gratuity of my life comes back to me out here, as well as amazement at my own capacity for self-pity.  Today was an absolutely marvelous sweat lodge (challengingly hot, but not crushingly so) run by a guy from Ganado - Rex Begay - who spoke completely honestly about his own time in prison, his return while in prison to both Navajo rituals and Catholicism, and the healing and acknowledgement of one's own brokenness that can happen in the lodge.  This man, who I presume has never taken a theology class in his life, hit the nail more squarely on the head, with more honesty and matter-of-factness, than I do after umpteen years of taking and teaching theology classes.  So, last time I asked what was wrong with me that those schools didn't want me for their doctoral program, and here I am a week later asking myself what I would hope to find in such a setting were I to attend this or that school.  I certainly want to continue my education, but would it have the end result of distancing me from people like Rex Begay or Yolanda Curley or Ailema Benally, or would it give me the space to enter more fully into the formation process that, after thirteen years in community, may be almost ready to begin?


Bernie said...

It is great to hear you had a rewarding trip. I hope the drive home is a safe one for you.

I would bet there are more folks that quietly and anonymously read your blog than you realize. I know of at least two people (one in Alabama, and me) who check every day to see what is happening with you.

Talk to you soon.

Anonymous said...

don't stop reaching people where they are. I find your attitude refreshing. I left Catholicism a number of years ago, and am no married - however I wanted to pursue a religious life at one point, brining REALITY INTO CATHOLICSM - BEING REAL - AND I BELIEVE YOU DO THAT..DON'T CHANGE!