Who’s on your tour?

Hey ladies, I’m wondering — Who is on your tour?

I’m sitting on a train heading back out to the ‘burbs from downtown Chicago where I just saw an amazing concert – Four Voices. Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the Indigo Girls, Emily Saliers and Amy Ray, have joined artistic forces for this 11 city tour. As soon as I saw it advertised I knew I couldn’t miss it for anything. The women did not disappoint. 

Early in the show they noted that among the four of them they represented more than 170 years of music-making. They first met 25 years ago when Baez invited the Indigo Girls to participate in a fundraiser concert. Saliers and Ray agreed to participate and brought Carpenter into the event, too. Their friendship was born and has included mutual support and admiration ever since. 

The women on stage tonight represented two or three generations of American music, at least three different genres, and several discographies worth of life experiences. Some might try to describe them as competitors, but I don’t think they’d stand for it. At one point tonight, Baez said, “I love these women and I love the work we do together.”

As much as I loved the music, and I loved the music, I think I loved this witness even more – women supporting women across generations as they move through their careers and callings. Women across generations supporting each other, learning each other’s songs, singing together sometimes and at other times letting each one shine on her own. 

Which brings me to my question, a question that doesn’t have to be exclusively for women, but one that I think is particularly important for women in a culture that still leans heavily toward patriarchy — Who is on your tour? Who are the people on stage with you – sometimes singing along with one of your songs, sometimes sitting behind you in the dark, sometimes letting you add your voice to their art? Who is in your multi-generational support team? Who reached out a hand to help lead you along and to whom have you offered a hand as well? 

One of the women on my tour, the Rev. Carol McDonald, was with me tonight, and I couldn’t have been happier than I was sharing the evening with her. She invited me on her tour a while back and has been a friend and mentor ever since. She prayed me through difficult times and pointed me in new directions when the time was right and I didn’t even know it. She has introduced me to women of all ages who are smart and faithful and hard-working, many of whom I consider part of the tour, too. Best of all, I know she isn’t just doing this for me. There are so many of us who have been blessed to join this particular tour.

Do you have people you’re on tour with? Do you a group of friends and colleagues who help you navigate your career and calling? Pastors and preachers, musicians and artists, doctors and teachers, mothers and executives — we all can benefit from supportive colleagues and friends as we go about our work of changing the world. 

Starting over… for some reason

I’m an external processor. When I’m trying to work something out, when I’m not quite sure where to go next, when something is bothering me or exciting me or driving me forward I want to, no, have to work it out outside of my own mind, usually verbally. Often that working out starts with me saying “for some reason” and then trying to figure out the reason.

For example, a few months ago I texted a friend saying that “for some reason” I was going to attend chapel at my daughter’s preschool. This isn’t something I do regularly. I don’t usually remember when chapel is held for her class. I don’t normally make room for it in my own schedule. It’s just not my practice. This particular week I had been invited to the chapel as a pastor in town for Pastor Appreciation Month.  The rest of that story, in which I work out the reason I went to a service where I wasn’t quite sure I would really be welcome, will appear as a chapter in an up-coming book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit. (How’s that for a teaser?) Ultimately, what was important for me was following the thread of my pondering “for what reason” to unravel a stronger sense of my own call to ministry, the leading of the Spirit in my life and the life of my community.

I had another blog for a while, but for some reason it never quite worked for me. Sure there were seasons I wrote on it regularly, but for the most part it just felt… blah. I think I didn’t know what I was trying to do with it. I think I didn’t have a voice worked out. I think I just didn’t trust that I had something to say.

For some reason, though, it’s time to start over. I’ve had some friends nudge me a little here and there, women and men I respect, people whose lives and ministries I admire. I’ve watched a lot of important conversations take place, conversations I care about, conversations of which I want to be a part, but conversations I’ve missed for lack of a place to join in and the discipline to stay engaged. I’m growing more confident that I’ve got something to add to this world of writing and talking about ministry, the church, families, and the world around us, and, well, even late to the game, I think I want to try to join.

I’m excited and nervous about trying to make my way into some of these waters. Disciplined writing has not ever come easily to me. I also worry that thinking of things to write about here will be as difficult as deciding what to write in the monthly church newsletter. But again, for some reason, the time seems right, if not overdue, to join the conversations happening around the church and culture blogosphere, so here I am. May God, the ultimate reason, bless whatever I offer.