Monday, January 24, 2005

The problem with Seventh Heaven

A few days ago I attended the incredible LREDA Mid-Atlantic Chapter winter retreat at Senexet House in Connecticut. Senexet is my favorite place to retreat, for Kit creates the most delightful gluten-free meals for me, a challenge in a small kitchen, and Senexet is the only retreat/conference center where I trust the kitchen. I drove home to a blizzard.

I had rested at this fabulous retreat. I had practiced various meditation techniques and only fell asleep once while “meditating.” I had gone to bed early, avoided the inaugural television, and taken a sinfully long hot shower. I was able to listen to and learn from some wonderful elder, er, more experienced, religious professionals. I was reminded of the importance of setting boundaries, of clearly identifying what I could do and when I would do it. I turned 43 while I was there, and took a solemn vow not to work more than that number of hours per week for the rest of the year.

That said, I almost slept on the floor of my office Saturday night in order to ensure that I’d be at the UU to open Sunday morning. Honestly, I can remember thinking that it was the most logical choice. I had to teach an anti-racism workshop in the COA class, there wouldn’t be many child care teachers, and someone had to be there to open. I somehow felt that my choices were to be shoveled out at 7 am, (impossible due to my recently herniated back,) to try to bust my car through the snow drift that is perpetually at the end of our driveway, (highly unlikely given the plow patterns of our town) or to sleep over in my office.

Not Going To Work didn’t occur to me.

Clearly the rest, relaxation, meditation, and boundary reminders I'd just experienced didn’t take.

I’ve long held jobs that seemed didn't have punch in and out scheduling. It’s always been a challenge for me, a bootstraps Yankee. I see work needing to be done, and I think of how to do it. I tell other people, including co-workers, that they shouldn’t take on something that isn’t in their job description, something that is better accomplished by the membership, or something that just plain is too much. Yet I seriously considered sleeping on the floor.

I think it must be in DRE and UUA job descriptions, for I’ve heard stories about UU religious professionals who have slept on their office floors to save money or time, and been saddened by it. But there I was, trying to figure out how to keep the church doors open, as if I were the only person who could possible do it.

I probably would have done it too, except my partner started singing that old Dolly Parton song, D-i-v-o-r-c-e.

Someone else volunteered to walk in on Sunday Morning, and took care of everything. All I had to do was stay home and answer the phone when people called for information. It was amazing. After 5 years at USNF, I finally had a snow day.

Anyway, Seventh Heaven starts up again tonight.

Lucy goes into labor while stuck in an elevator with Matt. Meanwhile, Ruthie gives Kevin some very sobering advice about the secret gift he's planning to spring on Lucy…

I love, and hate, Seventh Heaven.

I love it because pabulum aside, the values promoted are generally consistent with mine, and it highlights issues that other shows won’t touch. What other program has talked about the Lost Boys of Sudan, or addressed drinking and driving in a way that actually involves (rather than just threatening) tragic consequences? Plus, conservative Christians often don't like it. says that Seventh Heaven's moral rating is Take Caution, the same rating The Simpsons enjoys.

I hate it because it involves a minister and his wife who never wash a dish or have to pick up the house. The minister, read: religious professional, has time to pop home for lunch on a daily basis, their daughter gets to be assistant minister right out of college. I’ve never seen them struggle to pay the bills, and their house is ever increasing in size, allowing them to constantly take in other kids whose parents are unable to care for them (and none of whom have behavioral or significant emotional issues.) The minister eats at home every evening, never has congregation members imploding at a rate of more than one at a time, and only has to ask his children once to get anything done.

It has never occurred to him to sleep on the floor of his office.

Ozzy and Harriet didn’t have it so good.

Here’s a bit of trivia; in real life, Harriet couldn’t cook. At all.