The performer in me is slowly being discovered by my communities in Edinburgh, and I am starting to feel whole again, finding my place in my communities. It makes such a difference to me, to my sense of peace and wellbeing - I would be interested to hear the experiences of others - to know how I contribute to my communities.
Perhaps it is particularly because I am a performer, presider, presenter - my place is 'up front' - that I don't really feel known or part of things until I am in some sort of 'public' role. I think, being honest, I don't need an audience for myself, or I hope I'm not an ego-maniac. I do miss it. And I am one of the rare folk who has no problem at all standing before an audience (of one or one thousand, makes no difference). I feel comfortable there. I feel at home creating the spaces into which our stories are told, lived, shared. I know myself to be trustworthy holding others safe as we gather and nurture community.
I have in recent years become aware of how important community is to me, for my wholeness, my identity.
When I contemplated a PhD in English, there was something holding me back: on reflection, once I had found my calling as a storyteller-poet-minister, I wondered if it had something to do with the individuality of the planned PhD in English. The deeper longing through my searching twenties was to find my place in my community - especially my community of faith (though it took a long time to articulate the longing, perhaps after even the searching changed into a becoming).
As I grow into choosing, rather than resenting, my singleness, community has perhaps taken on a deeper importance. I've heard Catholic priests describe their celibacy as being free from needing to be available for partner or children so as to be available for parish. I think there is some truth in that, in my experience (where I take issue is in the assumption that all ordained folk must be single, for some clearly find partnering and parenting enlivening and enriching for their engagement in ministry and life). For me it is (and I'm sure I've written about it before) about energy. I have enough energy to be available to my communities, my close circle of friends and family, and my self. I think I have merged my sphere of energy that once was held for a partner into the other circles - so my community circle is bigger, and community gets more of me and my story, which I feel is part of my vocation. And my 'me' circle of energy is bigger, for contemplation and creativity. (for those wondering if I'm wading into heretical waters by not naming a 'God' circle, don't fear, I attend to the Holy in all three spheres).
So the discombobulation I have felt in the early months of life in Edinburgh has, in large part, been due to the necessary waiting time, as I get to know my new communities, they get to know me, and we work out together what my place in each might be.
In the past couple of weeks, I've been delighted to share in moments of discovery with folk in my various communities.
There has been submitting with New College faculty a grant for funding for a session in the University's innovative learning week in February, for which I will be the 'professional storyteller' facilitating the workshop.
There have been coffee meetings imagining and dreaming a visual storytelling event with folk from one of my faith communities.
I was an extra in the college promotional film, had lunch with the friend of a friend in the Church of Scotland to talk through options for working within the kirk somewhere, and this past week, a plethora of moments:
Sunday: Kate invited me to bring poems to the Carol Ceilidh at Greyfriars the following week
Thursday: Katie & I were looked to by the host of Cafe Voices at the Scottish Storytelling Centre as artists who could be counted on to contribute a story or a poem (she told a beautiful story, I read two poems, and Lou also offered her excellent Christmas poem)
Friday: Maryann and I hatched a plan to play music together for Robbie Burns night in January at New College
Friday: Martin decided that my clarinet and I might need to be made use of for communion gatherings at New College next year
Sunday: Richard invited me to read one of the lessons for the Radio Scotland recording happening at Greyfriars this afternoon
Sunday: read said lesson, and sang carols for the recording, offered a poem and danced my socks off at the Ceilidh
Sunday: invited to preach at St Columbas by the Castle - episcopal church - sometime next year.
Sunday: continuing conversations with Martin about creativity at New College, and the arts festival he's running at Greyfriars next year, in which there is a Palm Sunday drama event in which he has invited me to take part.
Friday: I understand that some of my poems are being used in shaping the NiteKirk contemplative worship space this coming Friday.
This evening, then, I have finished the day full to bursting with delight and wellbeing, feeling less like a lonely boat on a choppy ocean, and more like part of a sailing club with mates to explore and enjoy the views.