Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Sunday I was recognized as University Congregational Church's first writer-in-residence. I stood up in front, they said nice things, bopped me on the head with water and there I was.

One of the first things I want to do is start a writing group for returning women veterans. My original idea was to have it be for all vets, but a vet said to me, "One in four women have been sexually harassed and I'll tell you right now they won't open up in front of men." So I changed my idea.

I'm planning on having a twice monthly group that meets for a couple hours in the evening. My original idea was to have a Saturday eight-hour writing retreat like Maxine Hong Kingston does but I realized that will mean a lot of single moms won't be able to come. So I changed my idea.

You can see by now that my original ideas have all changed--for the better--but I felt a little down about this because it seemed so straightforward in the beginning.

Then a very wise friend said, "You have to decide exactly what your role is and what your goal is. And you need to educate yourself about the military and all the issues around it."

She gave me a list of books to read which are all terrific and I love to read and learn new things and try new things but during an exhausted moment the other night I thought, "Why didn't I just offer a writing group for people with cancer? I know about that. I'm expert at that! I wouldn't have to do all this work. Why returning vets?"

And on and on, wah-wah-wah when suddenly, clear as a bell I heard a voice in my head say, "Because that is where the need is."

Sure enough there are enough cancer writing groups to start a small city. But writing groups for women veterans? Not so much.

Why returning vets? Because that is where the need is. 

So I'll get on with the planning and arranging and educating myself and connecting with people. Most people are very supportive except for a few people who walk around wringing their hands and muttering, "What about the liability?"  They are afraid a vet will go crazy and sue the church.

When you get right down to it, anybody could go crazy and sue the church. And on the above mentioned Night of Self Pity I asked myself, "Well, Holy s**t, did Jesus have to put up with this kind of crap?"

Once again, clear as a bell, a voice in my head said, "Not unless you count scourging, flogging and crucifixion. And that crown of thorns was no picnic."

When I hear words in my head like that, I pretty much know that's Jesus talking as my experience of Him is that He can be a super wise-ass.

So I thought, well, if Jesus could start a major world religion with no internet, surely I can start a veteran's writing group. Perhaps you are thinking, "Who are you to compare yourself to Jesus?"

Well, if you call yourself a Christian you'd better be comparing yourself to Jesus all the time, Buster! Although I think it's perfectly fine to occasionally compare yourself to other religious figures as well.

I've compared myself to Ghandi and concluded that I'm fat although I did make my own clergy robe and Ghandi made his own--garment thing. So we have that in common. I'm hyperactive compared to the Buddha. And not enough of a visionary compare to Mohammed.

But I'm happy to say that both Jesus and I are right up there on the wise-ass scale.