RevGals Friday Five

Jan, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

Since it is almost my birthday and because my spiritual direction peer group is reading Living Fully, Dying Well by Edward W. Bastian and Tina L. Staley, I am thinking of my life in stages. For the latter group, we filled out a form dividing our life into 7-year increments, documenting “significant moments,” then “people who guided and influenced me,” and ending with the question, “What did this phase contribute to the continuum of my life?” This was a life Review Exercise devised by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

For today’s Friday Five, I am suggesting that we each divide our age into 5 sections. You don’t have to say your age or ages for the different parts, unless you want to. In each of the 5 points, please describe a memorable and/or significant event, either good or unpleasant

Well, I think I can divide my life into groups based on the states I lived in.

1. Utah – I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. My father’s parents lived in a well to do middle class section of town up on the mountains. My mother’s parents had a lot less money, lived down in the valley not far from the Miller Life brewery. I remember seeing the red lights from the sign whenever I spent the night at my maternal grandparents. I have many fond memories of spending time with that set of grandparents, and of that neighborhood. Following my parents divorce, I did live for a year or so with my paternal grandparents. I remember hearing about the assassination of JFK on the school bus radio, the solemn afternoon at school, and then watching the funeral on television. I also remember dancing in grandparents basement to “Puff the Magic Dragon”….I was five and thought it was a sad song about a dragon. Utah still holds my heart – particularly the mountains, the beauty of which is deeply ingrained in my spirituality.

2. Idaho, Wisconsin, and Texas: when I was nine my family moved away from Utah. My mom remarried, our step-father adopted my brothers and me, and then following his career, we moved a lot. Our first move took us to Nampa, Idaho. I remember being struck by the flat tops of the mountains and missed the soaring mountains of Salt Lake. We lived in the country and I loved playing outside, running through hay fields, watching the birth of a foal. But after a year we were transferred to a small town in Wisconsin.

We lived in Waupun, Wisc. for four years – from fifth through eighth grades. These were formative years, living in a small town divided between the natives and those who worked for Carnation – as my dad did. The company did a lot to build community among the employees and most of my friends were kids whose parents worked for Carnation. My dad got a job with another company and we were transferred to Ft. Worth, Texas just as I was entering high school.

Living in Ft. Worth was a cultural shock. The year I was there the high school got its first African-American students. I remember a long preparation process. I remember teachers who told jungle-bunny jokes and made racial slurs. The two African-American students were a brother and sister. The sister sat next to me in band – and the band teacher was the worst offender of racial slurs. I wrote a letter to the principle complaining about the teacher and dropped out of band. It was a big deal, at least for me, the first time I stood up for something I believed in. But, after only a year in Ft. Worth my dad was transferred to Illinois.

3. I lived in Illinois for the next 35 years. I graduated high school, went to college, got married, had my kids, bought and sold homes, went to seminary and was ordained in Illinois. I lived all over the Chicago-land area and know the town and the people really well. It’s a great place to live.

4. But after awhile I yearned to return to the west and found a position in southern Arizona. It was a beautiful place, but also a hostile place. I left after two years and returned to Illinois.

5. Now I am in a new phase of life, living in Michigan. I have found a position I really love in a town that is beautiful, interesting, diverse, complex. I’ve only been here since May, but I already feel like I am home.

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About Terri C Pilarski

I am an Episcopal priest serving a delightfully progressive, interesting, creative congregation. I have been married more than half my life to the same man. We have two grown children, plus two dogs and two cats, although the number of four legged household members changes from time to time. I love to garden, knit, read, and play on Facebook or with my blog. I have been a practitioner of daily meditation since I was nineteen. I practice yoga five days a week and walk every where I am able too.
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5 Responses to RevGals Friday Five

  1. Robin says:

    I did not know that you had such a western dimension to your life!

  2. Jan says:

    I appreciated your memories of different places. I was struck by your stories from the high school integration, as I did not observe civil rights growing up on the west coast–but I hear friends here in TX talk about the segregation and separation of races. It is interesting to observe how adults who should be mentoring their students instead instruct them in bigotry by their words and actions. We still do that, sad to say.

  3. Purple says:

    Ft. Worth…just a year…but quite formative in many ways. I am thinking of the Inter-faith experience you had shortly after moving to Michigan.

  4. ajowen says:

    This isn't really a comment on the previous post: I have contemplated ways to grow my prayer life and find that I have trouble being still so I thought I would try mandalas based on having read a post you put up last Jan. For some reason mandalas and the idea of quietness have been rattling around in my heart for a while now. Anyway, I wondered if you would write more about how you incorporate mandalas into prayer and meditation in your own life (I just read the post from last Jan). Thanks!

  5. angela says:

    What a beautiful analysis of where you've been. I used to be upset that there are chunks of my young life that I've blocked completely, but some of the images you've mentioned brought back some of the times I do remember. As always, even just taking a break while re-writing a paper (alas I dared put a poem in my paper)…I needed to read some comforting thing. Thank you.

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