But if I haven't been not out there, earning an honest crust, what have I been doing all through last year?
Well, church work, mostly.
First, there was Food Fair, an annual event sponsored by our church and managed by an international team of volunteers to raise money for charitable causes all around the world. I was on the organising committee, responsible for volunteers and supplies, and by the end of the day, we had raised 50,000 euros; all of which will go on projects such as digging wells in Africa, funding hospitals in India, helping street children in South America.
Secondly, there's my role as catechist in our parish. I've been teaching Sunday school to a class of 2nd graders (11 boys and 3 girls, mostly Italian), preparing them for their First Communion which will take place on May 5th, since September. It's been challenging, considering I've no prior experience of teaching or of children, really - but it's been rewarding and enjoyable. I've let them know that I don't have all the answers and so it feels like we're discovering our faith, the things we are meant to believe in as Catholics, together. They're too young to grasp the finer points of theology and neo-Platonic thought, and so we have been groping our way to an understanding of what exactly happened in the Incarnation, the mystery of the Trinity, and the reality of the Transubstantiation. We've been practising our prayers, and last Sunday they did me proud in receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation for the very first time in their lives. There was only one child who was so nervous that she suddenly forgot how she should cross herself, and I had to reassure her that it didn't matter afterwards.
I've also joined the lector team, so once every so often I have a role in the Sunday liturgy, reading the lessons and\or preparing the prayers for the day. And like last year, I led the devotions in the Stations of the Cross during Holy Week. People seem to like my reading; I get lots of positive comments, and I do enjoy reading very much. I practice my lines till I'm word perfect, then I perform them like an actor delivering a Shakespeare soliloquy. I know I'm skating on thin ice here with Father (he's warned me about adding too many dramatic flourishes), but some of my colleagues -bless their hearts- drone on so much, they send the congregation to sleep - and the Word of God deserves better treatment, I think.
Thirdly, I've been active in a group of people supporting each other through being inbetween jobs...all over 45, all highly educated, all massively experienced...and all finding it as difficult as I to stay positive and motivated. We organise lectures and workshops, look at one another's cv-s, try to network on each other's behalf, that sort of thing. I've been doing this since the beginning of the year and I think it has helped me get a grip again. Well, of sorts, anyway.
I've let my 10th LJ-versary earlier this month pass without marking it in any way. A shame. I'll have to make a special effort to remember my 12 1/2 year anniversary, then.