Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Spirit of Who Needs Plans

We started our second Nashville Friends Meeting's Growing In the Light spiritual formation group yesterday. We did an all-day retreat at the meetinghouse and will continue it until around 5:00 this afternoon with a break to participate in Meeting for Worship and then lunch. We're doing a lot of talking about spiritual practices and our own personal journeys. The main theme, this year, is that we're working through a series of exercises leading us to each write our own spiritual mission statement. I've been working on pulling this together for months and months so I'm actually pretty bored with the exercises but everyone else seems to be enjoying them and I do like the discussions about them.

Yesterday, I awoke with a headache and uncovered that I was actually pretty stressed about leading this GItL. Last year, Caroline and I worked together and it was our first time and so I felt less pressure to "perform". This year, Caroline couldn't do it and no one else volunteered to help, and of course, now that I've done it before I should know what I'm doing. Well, you know that I'm always flying by the seat of my pants (where in the world does that phrase come from? I must look it up sometime) and never really feel like I have a grip on what I'll be doing before I just plunge in (or take off, if it's a flying metaphor). In spite of that, I think yesterday went well. We had eight people and two others are to join us today; a variety of beliefs and life experiences within bounds of white, middle class and pretty well educated (we have 3 therapists in our group!). I do hope that one of these wonderful people steps up to offer to help me. I'm such a big idea person and I'm not very good with tasks. I just need someone to remind me of what I committed to do while it's still helpful to others to get it done.

I've got big-time chihuahua brain going on right now. I've actually been praying a lot but my prayers are mostly intercessory prayers for people I know and love who are having a hard time. I don't feel very close to Spirit, though I know Spirit is there: the distance is mine and not deliberate.

Flying By the Seat of One's Pants from

This is early aviation parlance. Aircraft
initially had few navigation aids and flying was
accomplished by means of the
pilot's judgment. The term emerged in the 1930s and was first widely used in reports of Douglas Corrigan's flight from the USA to Ireland in 1938.
That flight was reported in many US newspapers of the day, including this piece, entitled 'Corrigan Flies By The Seat Of His Pants', in The Edwardsville Intelligencer, 19th July 1938:
"Douglas Corrigan was described as an aviator
'who flies by the seat of his pants' today by a mechanic who helped him rejuvinate the plane which airport men have now nicknamed the 'Spirit of $69.90'. The old flying expression of 'flies by the seat of his trousers' was explained by Larry Conner, means going aloft without instruments, radio or other such luxuries."
Two days before this report Corrigan had submitted a flight
plan to fly from Brooklyn to California. He had previously had a plan for a trans-Atlantic flight rejected (presumably on the grounds that the 'Spirit of $69.90 wasn't considered up to the job). His subsequent 29 hour flight ended in Dublin, Ireland. He claimed that his compasses had failed. He didn't openly admit it but it was widely assumed that he had ignored the rejection of his
flight plan and deliberately flown east rather than west. He was thereafter known as 'Wrong Way Corrigan' and starred as himself in the 1938 movie The
Flying Irishman.
The 'old flying expression' quoted above (although it can't
have been very old in 1938) that refers to trousers rather than pants does
suggest that the phrase was originally British and crossed the Atlantic (the
right way) prior to becoming 'flies by the seat of one's pants'.

Wow! Wrong Way Corrigan is totally crushworthy! Who knew? He's cute and funny and wacky! Now I've got to run to the library and pick his movie up. Wheee!

(And didn't that just totally prove the chihuahua brain...)

1 comment:

Liz Opp said...

Hi, Mary Linda--

I've been traveling a bit more than planned and am making my way, slowly, through blogs I like to read.

I came across this post and wanted to add a comment, especially in response to this segment:

"I do hope that one of these wonderful people steps up to offer to help me. I'm such a big idea person and I'm not very good with tasks."

Have you considered talking with the group about how all of us are responsible for clerking, just as all of us are responsible for holding the silence during MfW?

When I've lifted this up as a committee clerk, I've been very specific and open about my own weaknesses and have asked for help from the group:

"My understanding is, especially when we seem to be drifting off topic or spending too much time on one thing, that we are all responsible for clerking. Please help all of us have the best experience possible by testing with the group what it is you sense we need, especially if I'm not giving voice to a concern you notice..."

Something like that, anyway. It has helped take the pressure off of me, I have found.

And remember: God is our ultimate co-pilot, pants or not! smile

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up