Today marks the first day of my unemployment. How will I devote my time?
I am sorry you went through betrayal trauma, Karen. Yes, it IS awful. When we met in D.C. in 2018, I was in the middle of the end of a 36-year marriage. The quote about how “God has removed you from a table where you used to sit..." resonates.
I am praying that this new start which is undergirded by retreat will be marked by comforting stability. I'm in a similar season, reorienting priorities (look at the root of that word!), considering what is truly of value in this season of life and moving forward.
I know 58 seems like a late in life time to start over, but I have been inspired by many women who have begun new adventures when they were, ahem, more mature. I went back to college in my 50s after being a homeschool mom to 10, getting my undergraduate degree online from Liberty University (ha, ha!), then my Master's degree from a seminary, finally getting licensed as a marriage and family therapist at 59. I've had a private practice for 2 1/2 years and just finished teaching human sexuality to graduate students preparing to become therapists at a local Christian university. Imagine that...I only got a college degree a few years ago, and I designed and taught a Master's level college course! It's ridiculous, in the best way.
You got this. Lots of people are rooting for you.
I feel I’m standing on holy ground here, Karen. If this essay is an indication of things to come, we’re all in for an enlivening transformation. The world needs your clean, strong, uplifting voice. And a greater percentage of the world will now hear it. Grateful!
Karen, this is heartbreaking and beautiful at the same ttime. I despise what you have been through, caused by those who claim the name of Christ but look nothing like Him.
Jesus has a new path for you, and for each one of the naysayers, there are countless others who have been touched by your teaching, your writing, and your presence.
I am blessed to have met you at this "sidetrack" in your life, and look forward to seeing where the next leg of this journey takes you, my friend!
Karen, I’m looking forward to your new adventure! You are still a “young lady” from my perspective. You know my academic background and career teaching, but lately completed an MDiv at age 74 and recently (at 75) added training as an ordained Animal Chaplain — I’d love to share more about that with you sometime. Blessings on your new endeavors.
Wisdom forged in pain is such a bittersweet gift. It's hard to imagine, but there are many of us who have been promoting you, sharing your books, and amplifying your voice in our communities. While the loud detractors land the hardest blows, your biggest supporters work silently. I hate that that's how it works, but sadly, it is. I am so thankful that you've started The Priory. It will be a refuge for all of us who have benefited from your wisdom, but, maybe even more importantly, a source of encouragement and support for you as you continue your essential work.
Thanks for inviting us to the Priory, Karen.
Your desire to be the prioress of your soul reminds me of a lecture given by Marilynne Robinson a few years back. One theme of her lecture was the idea that the joy and privilege of her life has been related to her conscious choice to ‘tend to her soul’. The evidence of Ms. Robinson’s tending to her soul is, I think, expressed in her unapologetically Christian body of work. Robinson demonstrates through her books that there is tremendous strength in Christian thought,teaching, and living. It holds up against the stresses and failures of the human condition and comes out of the fray injured perhaps, but intact.
May your time spent in the Priory be one of joy and healing.
Reading through Psalm 119 after reading your piece.
... “Who seek Him with all their heart.”
Enjoy retreating, cultivating, planting...
And wearing yellow skirts! Love it!
I’m so sorry for all the hard things you have experienced over the last many years. It’s been heartbreaking to witness. I’m thankful that you’re here now, sharing with us in this way. I’m eager to see how this next season unfolds for you, and hopeful that this retreating will bear the sweetest fruit in your life, and also in ours as you share what wisdom comes.
I'm anticipating good, deep things ahead, Karen. Sitting with open hands with and for you today. Retreat well. Linger, read, do what brings Karen alive. And oh - my dad was a manager at Howard Johnson's long before I was born.
My prayers for you go on... God is faithful and true.
A holy priory, a magic well, a source of truth, a mighty spell: a new age begins. The world of men is passing, and the time of the true Human is coming, born from a body of truth, shining light from eyes fastened on Lady Wisdom, the great Enchantress, from Boethius to Chaucer, who brings Words of Life from heaven to feed heart’s hungry for wholeness.
Bravo ... says the 59-year-old, self-employed lover of words and all things beautiful. This is gonna be good!
I too had to step away from a table a few years ago. It was a leap of faith, because I didn’t know if I would find another good outlet for my writing - to express what was so important to me in a way that benefits the Church. I had almost two years in a priory phase of my own. Now, God has brought me to some other tables, which feels like such a fantastic blessing: a gift I don’t really deserve. So far, I am fed well at these tables. But I admit, I do sometimes think about the old table and the great meals I would have there with people I cared about, and while at the end the food was rotten, it was not so bad at the beginning. I miss those good meals with friends. But God is teaching me the difficult lesson of how to treasure the good parts of former experiences while also acknowledging the bad, and to be grateful for what was good despite how things ended. I think that is actually a humanly impossible task, but the Spirit can work this healing. I pray that you too will find other tables at which you can sit with dear friends and feast together.
If you have access to it, you might find Wendell Berry's Sabbath Poem 1982 VI worth a read, it seems to me to have much to speak to what you describe in this post and the place you find yourself in. The Lord bless you.
I am so sorry for what you’ve experienced. But I know God will bring good from it and am really looking forward to this newsletter! I am at a similar stage in life (I’m 59) with similar interests and have had some similar experiences, so I think it will be very encouraging!
I still think fondly of the semester I had you for Religious Themes in Literature. God bless you as you start your new chapter in life, and may you find fulfillment in every way.