(…Unless you’re in Canada—then you may consider this a belated post for October. If you’re in the UK, you can read it whenever, I suppose. There’s no rush.)
Once again, it has been silent here at Apron Strings for a little bit simply because I have been so busy. In addition to my two part-time jobs, I have just this month become the Open Access Publishing Intern for the American Theological Library Association (where I am learning many wonderful things that can be applied to the Ekklesia’s publishing efforts) and I am as always grinding away at finishing my library science degree and making sure that my four-year-old still gets my attention as much as he possibly can. Amidst all that, I continue working late into the night finalizing the ECE’s 4th edition, which is a huge improvement over the third in textual accuracy, layout, and content, as well as collaborating with so many talented people in the community on a Spanish translation of the Clear Recital and on some new publishing efforts for next year, which should include a wall calendar, some prayer cards and icons, and the launch of a regular devotional magazine for all the wonderful things that I see all of you write on Tumblr, the Concord, and elsewhere so that they don’t just disappear into the aethyr.
As I take up this new internship, though, stare down my May graduation date, and plan my moves for that first real, full librarian job next year (Dea volente), I want to take a moment to say thank you to all of you for making the Ekklesia what it is. I was one of those young people who had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, who skated through college taking easy classes and testing out of what he could, who bounced from one dead-end job to another without vision or direction or even hope of finding any. There were always lots of things I was interested in, but no one thing that I cared enough about to really give myself over to and move from apprentice to journeyman.
That changed when I found Filianism five years ago. I had been looking for answers in religion a long time—even done a master’s in it—but these too were intellectual interests, passively pursued. I was motivated to read, to learn, to appreciate, but not to do or build or make anything. The Clear Recital, however, pierced me through and drew my head down into my heart. I agreed with a lot of the things I had been taught in many schools and in many houses of worship, but this was something I believed in. And so, for the first time in my life, I didn’t just play at something, but rolled up my sleeves and worked. The ECE represents just one part of what that work has become.
But work is hard, and there were times when I wondered if it was worth it. There were times when I doubted… whether the religion was true, whether it could do any good in the world if it were, whether there was a place for me in it. And when I doubted, what kept me working was, in part, all of you. It was the knowledge that my work didn’t just serve me, and didn’t even just serve some abstract notion of a theoretical good in the world, but that it would be of real use to real people—people whom I’d never stood in a room with (and, sadly, still haven’t), but whom I’d come to care about, and whom I believed (and dare still to believe) had come to care about me, too.
Thus it was that, again for the first time in my life, I stuck things even when they were hard and even when I wasn’t sure, and in sticking with things—editing, archiving, research, indexing, cataloging, web design—I became good at them and, even more importantly, filled with the desire to become better at them still. I can’t begin to tell you what all that has done for me, but it has changed my life. It has made me a student in my second master’s that I was not able to be in my first, and thus it has broken me loose from a string of pointless jobs and set me on a career that now promises to pull my family out of poverty and to give us a future in a way that, not long ago, seemed impossible.
And even while spurring me to develop technical skills, Filianism and the Filianic community that welcomed me inspired me to stick with other things that were even harder—patience, listening, gratitude, hope—and I became better at these, too, and filled with the desire to become better still. Beyond the tools to make a living for my family, it has thus helped me forge the tools to live with them, making me a husband in my second marriage that I was not capable of being in my first, and a father to my first child that I have to be the first time, because there aren’t any second chances at that.
I guess this is a testimony, but it is a testimony with a point, and that point is that this religion can do powerful things in people’s lives, but it can only do them if they keep showing up, and a huge part of what keeps many of us showing up for our Lady is that we keep showing up for each other, even if only to chat online and affirm together, as the Madrians did decades ago, “our belief in that which alone is true”. So many of you have inspired me, reassured me, comforted me, welcomed me, and strengthened me in moments when I’m sure you had no idea you were doing so. I can only pray that I may have done the same for some of you, and that I may do so in the future.
Thank you. Thank you all so much.
PS Among all those many people showing up I want to highlight two who have come to my attention in the past couple of days. River S has just relaunched her magnificent blog over at Silver Scripture. Those who have seen her work before will, I know, be excited to see some new things from her, but I also know there are plenty of new folks in the community who may not be familiar yet and who are in for a treat. Also, I just discovered that Sorella Minna is blogging at Maiden of the Lady. I don’t know how this escaped my attention previously, but I definitely don’t want it to escape anyone else’s; her writing is as deep as it is lovely.