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Thursday, January 7, 2010

The long way around

That is what's required. Taking the long way around. I am well known for taking the scenic route. Whether the trip is five miles or fifteen thousand, I am going to find the scenic route and take that. When I moved to New Jersey from Chicago, it was by way of southern Ohio and West Virginia. When classmates at Princeton finished their graduate degrees in three years, I was taking the long way around. I completed all of my professional requirements in 1983. They had been long done, in 1979. But I took the scenic route, with studies in Poland and a trip to Moscow thrown in. Mary Daly, an astonishingly brave and brilliant Catholic theologian just died but she sent me on a trek the long way around thirty-four years ago, changing my name, moving out of the mainstream, and, to my endless delight, earning me a special trip to the dean's office "because you are over-identified with masculinity." What that revealed was the quaint and well-worn trip over the same old road that apparently most women were still making, while I was seeking to work in a traditionally male field and dared to acknowledge my assertive and leadership proclivities. Proclivities. To leadership. My sweet lord. Mary Daly, peace to your soul. And thank you for sending me out into the wild lands. Epiphany is all about taking the long way around. This event, this holiday and feast day in the Christian church, is about the Magi, the Wise Men, who showed up late at the manger and got warned that King Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus. He assumed they would stop by and tell him where this baby King was. But they didn't. They took another way home. They went home by another way. They took the long way around. And so it goes. And so it goes. I just read another book about healing after great trauma and injustice. The author says, "get active, get busy, get even." I like the exhorting to busyness, to activity, but I'm still not about getting even. I'm getting odd. The long way around. I'm gonna go 'home' by another way.