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.