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Friday, July 27, 2007

The Church Lady Turns in Her Keys

The other day, I handed over my keys to a new regime: I found my replacement for Coordinator of Religious Education, and although there's a little sorrow there's a great deal of relief. With all the pregnancy hormones, I just don't have the emotional stamina that I had a year ago. The pair of sisters who accepted the position are ideal, and I was greatly pleased that they decided to do it. They assisted me in the religious education office last year, they have taught CCD, and they have worked in schools and offices. They know their way around the job, and have that certain "Mom" quality that serves well in this position ("I'm the mom, that's why!)

I'm a little sad at turning over the job, but mostly for the wrong reasons. I enjoyed the prestige... dare I admit that? I dearly loved going to liturgy board meetings, planning improvements to the program, and having people recognize me and know my name. We live in a small town, where that means something. It's kind of fun to go to the doctor and have him ask me "expert" questions about religious ed policies, or to go to the pharmacy and have the pharmacist call me by name before seeing my prescription. As a person who has spent the better part of four years here feeling like a stranger, it's been my first experience of being an accepted member of the community.

On the other hand, there are things I will not miss. Leading parent meetings, going in without quite knowing till the last minute what I'm supposed to talk about. Cleaning up nosebleeds and hearing fourth graders yammer about their handheld gaming systems. Trying to find substitutes on fifteen minutes notice, or filling in when the sub fails to show. Explaining to irate parents at 7:30 in the morning that no, we are not showing the kids R rated movies, and yes, you do have to be baptized to make First Communion. No, I can't baptize your child or arrange for it, you'll have to call the parish office yourself. They open in half an hour.

Mostly, I won't miss the feeling of panic when I know deep in my heart that I'm unprepared, no matter how well I can fool everyone else.

And I love knowing that the program is going to be in really good hands: people who are faithful to Church teachings, who have sincere prayer lives and active sacramental lives. I love knowing that I don't have to show them around too much, because they already know most of the ropes. (This, I must admit, was a fear of mine: how can I teach someone else what I barely know myself?)

I will probably be looking for another ministry or activity to get involved with, but one I can leave easily when the baby is born; and one that I can miss on days when family life is making demands. It took me a year to learn to love our parish (how can they be blamed that I was homesick?) and another two years to work up the courage to take on a position of responsibility; I don't want to leave behind all that progress. But for now, it's kind of a pleasant sorrow to hand in my keys.