Today is the first Sunday in Advent, and the theme is Hope.
About a month ago, on Samhain (the Wiccan analog of the Day of the Dead), my wife was in the hospital. Shortly after arriving in the emergency room by ambulance, she went into cardiac arrest. Her heart stopped. She had a deep-cerebellar stroke. She was revived and spent a week in the intensive care unit. She would spend another week in a regular hospital room. She’d even have another overnight stay a little later to get two units of blood and for observation.
Until the beginning of October, she had been the primary source of income for our little family of two. After getting laid off, she began job hunting. During this time, I continued to attend seminary and work my very part-time, one-night-a-week job, all the while hoping that her job search would yield something that would allow us to survive while at the same time hoping that if she had trouble that I could find a job and just take a leave of absence from my seminary studies.
That all changed on October 31. My hope for her became focusing on her living through this illness. I abandoned my studies, telling my professors about our situation, and returned to the job hunt. Now, my hope for myself is that I’ll find a job that will allow me to pay all of our day-to-day living expenses as well as attend to the mounting debts and bills that we’ve been delaying paying due to lack of funds.
Yes, those are very personal, inwardly focused hopes. These aren’t the hopes that I suppose a minister and seminarian would be traditionally expected to write about, especially in light of recent local, national, and world events.
I’m not turning my back on social justice issues. Being transgender, I can’t. If I did, I could pretty much just say good-bye to the employment equality that I need right now to provide for Anne and myself. But, I am taking a break from the wider world of social justice ministry. It’s the end of November and I still don’t have full-time work. I would need to work between 70 and 90 hours a week with my current very part-time job in order to make enough money for us to survive. And, it’s not a minimum wage job. It’s not much more than minimum wage, though. If I had a minimum wage job, I’d need between 80 and 100 hours of work to make ends meet. And we only have a 1-bedroom apartment that actually costs less than a lot of others in this area. The car is paid for, and was paid off before I met Anne. We aren’t living in the lap of luxury. Not even close. We are two middle-aged persons with various medical issues that require money to treat, her more so than I. We also have outstanding debts to attend to. But even without those factors, a full-time minimum wage job would not be enough.
So my primary hope for this Advent season is economic justice. Let everyone who seeks work be able to find that work, so that they may survive.
Amen, and blessed be.