May the One who gave blessings to those before us now give us the strength and endurance to become a blessing to others. (a Hebrew prayer)What a blessing this extended weekend has been.
I went to Ohio this weekend for two primary purposes - first, to help celebrate the birthday of my twin sisters, Sue and Sandy; and second, to get away from the insanity of ongoing unemployment in metro Chicago. I realized just how much this has been weighing on my mind by the desperation with which I raced out of town on Thursday afternoon.
In my haste to get out of town so I could beat the rain (which I didn't), I left behind a number of important things (like my cell-phone charger, and my CPAP machine, without which I've been snoring much, and sleeping less well than I might have otherwise). But despite having a hundred things I supposedly needed to get done Thursday morning and afternoon, suddenly something just snapped, and I had this desperate need to just get the heck out of town...now. And so in the space of 15 minutes, the car was packed, the tunes were on, and I was "eastbound and down," as the old song says.
And it felt pretty darned wonderful, to be honest.
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to go to the University of Toledo's "Art on the Mall," a one day art show showcasing northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan artists. It was at the art show today that I saw a beautifully-lettered print in Hebrew and English with the prayer that opened this entry.
Dear God, let that be my prayer, this day.
As I read the prayer, it called to mind my current financial and employment lack-of-status. I am way past "please God, let me get a good job" and "please God, let me get any job." I am down to the "please, God, would you help me cease to be a burden to my family and friends, and let me do for others what they have done for me, that I might be a blessing, too..." stage of the game.
The 7th Tradition of the AA program states that we "ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions," which just irks the tar out of me too - because for years I was a stickler about this. It was part of the 7th tradition that told me that I shouldn't declare bankruptcy 12 years ago, and continue to pay down my immense debt (which is now the major stumbling block between me and ordained ministry). So to be entirely dependent on the contributions of others to even pay my electric bill has been a source of real frustration.
But even more than that...for years, when someone was in genuine need, I made a serious effort to help them out. And I want to be able to do that again. And I desperately, desperately want to not have to be supported when I am very much ready and able to support myself.
Of course, I know all the pat answers: I'm not on the street, or in danger of being evicted (yet); I have plenty of food; I don't have a family to worry about; I still have my level of health (at least, what health I haven't destroyed up to this point!). So in those ways I am blessed beyond measure. And I am blessed by the people who have supported me out of their own pockets to keep going.
But it's getting hard, Lord. Really. And, to be honest, I don't want to make the decision to move in with friends or my sister - even though both of them will be willing to have me in a heart-beat.
For now, I'm gonna get back to Chicago, and get back in the job-hunting game.
And "pray without ceasing."