Sunday, March 06, 2011

Hubris and Silence

The fact that I have been unable to blog here for more than two months alerts me (and probably many of you) to the fact that Something is Wrong. Indeed, something has been very wrong. I’ve had a voice problem. Not the sort that musicians have. But the sort that an individual has … an individual who has been writing in one voice and begins to question herself.

An event occurred in my parish in mid-December. I was completely at fault. I used my voice (on Facebook) to bash a fellow parishioner, whom I did not name; but the FB friends in my parish knew of whom I was speaking.

It was cruel of me. And it came out of a place of arrogance. As if I were some special arbiter of Truth, Justice, and the Anglican Way. As if I could decide who was “worthy” in my parish.

Lord, have mercy.

A classically educated student of literature, I know all about hubris. Problem is: I didn’t see it growing in myself.

Until it exploded in my face.

I had been a relatively successful blogger here and over at The Episcopal Majority. Folks I respected deeply were listening to me, and I was honored to engage in dialogue with them – honored to count them as colleagues … as brothers and sisters. I was delighted to be working alongside them.

But something happened late last fall. Was it because I had been in “the fight” so long – particularly since GC06? Was it because my diocese did me the deep honor of electing me a Deputy to General Convention? Was it my blog site stats?

I don’t know. But I fell prey to hubris, and maligned a brother in the parish.

I recognized the next day that I had gone “over the top.” I have talked with my rector about the spiritual dimensions of this matter … and the communal dimensions, as well.

The result?

I lost my voice. I developed Blogger’s Laryngitis. As you have seen here in my silence since mid-December.

I have become so afraid of hubris and arrogance that I have been unable to offer anything – not opinions, not analysis, not anything.

Today – on the last Sunday after the Epiphany, where we heard of Moses’ meeting with God and Jesus’ transfiguration – I am offering this all up to God. I want to be transformed. I think I have had some useful things to say in the past, and you have encouraged the best part of me in that.

I thought about just killing this blog, but I hope I still have some things to say. I just need the discernment to find which warrant saying.

I want to offer thanks especially to Maria who has tried, in many ways and for many weeks, to encourage me to find my authentic voice and get back to blogging. It’s my fault that it has taken me so long. And you can’t blame her if I screw up again! :-)

Many preachers preface their sermons with this prayer:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.
Perhaps I should use that in my blogging work.

Dear friends, please pray that I can be the kind of blogger that I am supposed to me ... that I intended to be. Mind you, I don’t think of blogging as self-absorption. I set out with the goal that this blog would be a kind of ministry. Join me in praying that I may use the prophet’s voice (when that’s what is needed) and the Comforter’s voice (when that’s what’s needed) and the analyst’s voice (when that’s needed), and that I will always remember my baptismal covenant when I write here.

I may not always be wise or insightful … though I wish I could be. I may not often be witty … though that is my frequent wish. But I pray I will never be cruel. Perhaps most of all, I pray that God will help me find the right “voice” here and give me the courage and humility to use it.

As we move toward Ash Wednesday, many people are thinking about what they will “give up” for Lent. I find myself moving in the opposite direction. I find myself thinking about what I might “offer up” for Lent. And since words have been my gift for most of my life, perhaps I will offer up those words to God for my Lenten discipline.

We shall see.

Please pray for me, my brothers and sisters.

30 Comments:

Blogger Ann said...

Prayers abounding.

3/06/2011 6:01 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

And forgive yourself - God and the rest of us have.

3/06/2011 6:01 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, Ann.
I fear I have been lost in a wilderness.

At church today, when Shariya+ pronounced the absolution, it got to me as it seldom does.

3/06/2011 6:14 PM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Lisa, you have a beautiful voice--and I've missed seeing it in print.

My prayers continue.

3/06/2011 6:34 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

You are very kind, Maria. We shall see.
I would like to return to the land of Blogville!

3/06/2011 6:42 PM  
Blogger Jane R said...

Dear Lisa,

I am so glad that you have returned.

(Speaking of which: re-turning. In Hebrew, teshuvah, the word for repentance and conversion, literally "turning around." Same as Greek metanoia. Turn. "Return to the Lord your God," the great cry of Lent.)

(Also: The first lines of T.S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday." "Because I do not hope to turn...")

My mentor, Krister Stendahl, preached a wonderful Ash Wednesday sermon which I have never forgotten. He reminded us that Lent is a time to return to God, who is tender and mercifully, and therefore, he added, a time to learn anew to be tender with ourselves.

I know all about losing one's voice. Have been going through some of same. Different reason, I think, but same loss.

Loss of voice happens a lot to women. It is harder for us to keep our voice out there. Be careful not to confuse suppressing your voice with following Godde's will.

Speak.

"God forgives you. Forgive others. Forgive yourself." (New Zealand Prayer Book)

With love,

Your sister Jane

[Reconstructed - I originally wrote this before Ann posted and Blogger ate it. I should remember to keep a copy of long posts before clicking "publish" in case the post disappears.)

3/06/2011 7:07 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Lisa, I will pray for you, too. You have a voice that is worth hearing.

I see my blog as a something of a ministry, too, although it may be a bit prideful to think of it that way. One rule I've found helpful is not to say anything on my blog about another that I would not say if I looked the person in the eye. I've probably broken the rule, but I try.

Don't be too hard on yourself. We all fall short. As Ann said, forgive yourself.

3/06/2011 7:29 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Deep thanks, Jane – especially since you had to reconstruct this.

Yes, I am familiar with the notions of turning and re-turning. I was educated by the Cistercians, after all. :) (And I adore Eliot’s poem!)

But I had not connected it with the Lenten observance. I shall hold Stendahl’s counsel close to my heart.

In times past, I have seen Lent as a time of “obstaining from.” Perhaps this one will be a season of “offering to.” We shall see.

Have you blogged about the times when you lost your voice, Jane? Did I miss it? That is hard to imagine, for I love your voice.

The challenge for me, I think, is to find a new voice. I was good at the ranting voice. I think I have to find a new and humbler voice … without sacrificing the things about which I feel passionate. That’s going to be a challenge.

Newly chastened –
Lisa

3/06/2011 7:32 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Grandmère Mimi, there is not a doubt in the world that your blog is a ministry!

You have found a "voice" that encourages many of us, and I give thanks for your ministry;

Now we shall find whether I can relocate and refocus mine.

3/06/2011 7:41 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Lisa,
I never feel quite as intelligent as all your other friends, but I will speak to you from the heart.

A musician who has a "voice problem" must take a rest in order that her voice not be ruined. A pianist will rest her fingers when they've lost the ability to play.

I think you have been very wise to rest your "voice" until it could speak with some clarity again.

That doesn't mean people haven't missed you, but you were doing your own "wandering in the wilderness."

I believe that if you forgive yourself, God will open that voice again. Zacharias' actual voice was closed until after John was born. He listened to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will help you find that right "voice" again.

Love to you,
Sandy

3/06/2011 8:12 PM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Quick anatomy lesson:

Our legs are not anatomically designed for kicking our own ass.

Rest assured there will always be people happy to perform that task for you.

Now get on with using your voice!

3/06/2011 8:30 PM  
Blogger LKT said...

Welcome back, and prayers. I look forward to hearing your voice this Lent.

3/06/2011 9:28 PM  
Blogger Kirstin said...

Praying with you.

3/06/2011 9:28 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Lisa, it is indeed a blessing to have you back. You have been through a tough time - yet also a good one, in that it has caused you to pray, to reflect, and I pray to come back stronger.
Blessings, my sister!

3/06/2011 9:54 PM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Another thought about the voice other than the ranting voice....Spend some time reflecting on the story of Jesus going off on the moneychangers in the temple.

What would be missing from our understanding of Jesus had that story not been recorded?

3/06/2011 10:15 PM  
Blogger Jeffri Harre said...

Lisa,

Of course, prayers.

You've been missed.

Welcome back.

3/06/2011 10:51 PM  
OpenID eighthsacrament said...

I'm glad to hear your voice again, even if you are having difficulty finding and using it with consistency.

I don't know how you feel about private/sacramental confession, but I find it a helpful experience to hear the priest pronounce absolution after I've said the worst things I've done, that God loves me even though I have consistently let myself and God down.

3/06/2011 11:10 PM  
Blogger JCF said...

Many prayers, headed your way (well, God's way, but passing over&around&through you, in love).

3/07/2011 2:06 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Sandy, I am grateful that you commented here. (And PSHAW! about your not being intelligent! That’s just a crock!) You speak wisely and from the heart. I especially like your observation about Zacharias … who had to wait. Thank you.

KirkE: Your anatomy lesson is hilarious! Thanks for that. I suspect I’ve been kicking my ass lots more than anyone else. Channeling my inner Calvinist, I suspect … Dang! When will I exorcise the Calvin that was injected in my youth?
And an interesting question about Jesus and the money-changers. I wonder about that story. Yes, I think it is ok to do a “holy rant.” But – as Mimi said – I think it has to be one I would be willing to say face-to-face. And I think it has to respect the dignity of the person, even when I disagree.
I’m thinking out loud here.

8thSac: Thanks for talking about the rite of reconciliation. In the formal conversations with my rector, I’ve also thought about doing it. But I’ve cried enough in her office. I’m afraid I would totally “lose it” in the rite. … But you encourage me to consider it again. Lent is a good time, is it not?

And – Laura, Kirstin, Lauren, Jeffri – deep thanks for taking the time to write here and for your belief I have something useful to say. I am grateful.

3/07/2011 2:21 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Love it, JCF. You're right.

3/07/2011 2:26 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

BTW, Kirstin: Your blog has been an inspiration to me, and one I want to adopt as a model. The worse things get for you, the gentler you become. I am truly in awe.

3/07/2011 2:33 AM  
Blogger LELANDA LEE said...

Lisa,

Glad to have you back. Glad you've given yourself permission to come back. That's often the hardest thing to do, even after everyone else has forgiven and invited you back.

Martin Luther said that his experience of being justified by faith feels like being reborn. Just as it's sometimes hard to accept the gift of faith, I think it's sometimes hard to accept the gift of rebirth, too, which occurs each time we approach the Eucharistic table.

Welcome back.

Lelanda

3/07/2011 5:35 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, Lelanda. Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about our transformation thru the sacraments. That may be a future blog.

Thanks for visiting here.

3/07/2011 8:36 PM  
OpenID eighthsacrament said...

Believe me, I was a hot mess during confession. I stashed a stack of tissues in my pocket, brought a list, and I expect it to be roughly the same this go-round which I think is fine since sins and humanity are messy.

3/07/2011 10:39 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I suspect I'd be the same.

I have had an observation in the past couple of months. I wanted to be a colleague to my rector. Hey! I'm a sacristy rat, I keep up with diocesan/TEC/WWAC news. We're colleagues, right?

Not so much.

I don't know how to let my priest be my priest.

3/07/2011 11:05 PM  
Blogger Jane R said...

Well, you might want to go to confession to a different priest from your rector. It's really okay to do that.

Also okay not to go at all. (As you know: "All may, some should, none must.") But Lent might be a good time for this for you -- to hear and receive MERCY from the Holy One who loves and loves and loves us. It's not about being punished. It's about receiving renewing and redemptive love.

3/07/2011 11:41 PM  
Blogger Jane R said...

P.S. I haven't written much about loss of voice on the blog --no voice with which to do it-- though my posts of this year show this loss, if you read both the lines and between them. Horrid writer's block. Still have it.

3/07/2011 11:42 PM  
Blogger Kirstin said...

Thank you, Lisa.

3/07/2011 11:46 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Jane, if there were ever a priest whom I trust, it is this rector of ours. She is awesome.

If I did confession elsewhere, it would be because I didn't want someone as deeply insightful as Shariya.

3/08/2011 9:40 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, Jane, I have sensed it.

It's dang miserable!

3/08/2011 9:42 PM  

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