Welcome, Grace & Peace...

Welcome to my blog, a transdisciplinary place of reflection on creativity, pastoral theology, and psychotherapy. Posts are few, so check back periodically to see what's new. Enjoy!

The Rev. Martha S. Jacobi., PhD, LCSW


At Long Last

A dance improvisation with my longtime friend and classmate, Marina Gobins Walchli, performed at the 2011 gathering of Interlochen Arts Academy alums, "1969-1972 or so..."   Video by Lawrence Probes.


30 years and counting...

I realized, yesterday, that my ordination happened on the summer solstace--the "longest day" of the year-- the day with the most sunlight, in the northern hemisphere. My husband & I joked about what manner of metaphoric meaning might be contained therein, as the 30th anniversary of the ordination came...and went...a moment in time...a moment marking the passing of time...a moment representing more than half  of my life-time...

It was a beautiful day in New York: warm, but not too hot, nor humid.  Idyllic. A perfect day.

Minstry, however, is not always like that, on the outside. Yet in a deeper sense, it is... Ministry is about being with others in the contexts of their lives. It is about incarnational embodiment of the Gospel. It is about the unexpected popping up in the midst of the ordinary, the hum-drum, the up-and-down days. It is about bath & meal & conversation: font, table, and pulpit. Ministry is about suffering & joy; consternation & celebration; or, in Frederick Buechner's words, about "Comedy, Tragedy, & Fairy Tale."

Thirty years have come and gone since that summer solstace of 1981; it does not seem possible, most of the time.  And yet, as I think back, I see faces and remember names, across places & spaces... A child baptized, and buried three months later; another child receiving first communion--soon to be, herself, ordained! ("Grace: God's love given freely." --and if she is reading this, she knows who she is.) I remember the single mom struggling with her four children and living in poverty; I remember the retired church-men (yes, men) gathering to talk and do "handyman" work around the church. I remember the work-release programs of the upstate prisons, and the ministry of hospitality of the Ladies' Aid, the Frauen Verein, and the LCW... the forthrightness of GF:  "So, what are you in for?" Inmate: "Manslaughter."  GF:  "Oh. Have some cake?") ...  precious memories, precious times. Thirty years later, new memories are being forged, new relatonships born, nuances of ministry explored...

...like that of having found myself ecclesiastically homeless, in 2004, for reasons far beyond the scope of this blog -- and being welcomed into a new church home, in the city.... St. Luke's, the Lutheran Church near Times Square... first as a member & later, as pastoral associate. Word and Sacrament, there, support and sustain the healing work of pastoral psychotherapy; the practice deepens and enriches the ministry at St. Luke's --  interlocking circles of Word, faith, & grace.


Creativity Consciousness...

I just finished reading yet another book about providing psychotherapy with trauma survivors. It had some fresh perspectives on conceptualizing the work... but in the end, after all the theory had come and gone, after certain examples sounded technologically "dated" only 4 years after publication(!) -- one sentence stood out for me:  that certain interventions "can be accomplished in a variety of ways, limited only by the creativity of the patient and therapist." (italics, mine)

This is one of the "gutsiest" sentences I've read recently, flying in the face of recipe-like protocols, cost-management of treatment, and what I believe to be an over-dependence on quantitative outcome measures. Creativity -- of both patient and therapist...  I hear the phrase suggesting a collaborative, mutuality of imagination; a foray into the mystical places and workings of the brain, mind, & spirit that I call the "land of no words."  It is where science meets art, inspiration, and the wisdom of the ages. It is also the way I work, as a therapist, a liturgist, a preacher.

Creativity, I think, is both movement and stillness; action and state-of-being. It is both a hallmark and a part of the birthing process of healing. Creativity enters into what now is with possibilities of what else could be. Creativity envisions what is -- and is not -- already there to be seen; the expected and unexpected, the up and the down, the inside and the outside and everything in between... it is the conjurer of paradoxes like the mobius strip, and conundrums of perspective.

Eventually "it" lands in the concrete words and behavior of the therapy room and/or the sanctuary: healing movement in sacred space, and God is present in the mists of mind, in the midst of human meeting.


Movement in Stillness ~~ Words out of Silence

"When there is too much, there is not enough."   (anon.)

2010 was kind of like that.  Winds of change rippled, and sometimes ripped, through my life, bringing a new life-partner, wedding, and step-children as well as the scourge of bedbugs, an assaultive barrage of jackhammers as my apartment building's facade was "restored," and an acute hip-to-knee injury.  When there is so much movement, a counterpoint of stillness is needed; a silence of word in order for the healing movment deep within to give rise to new words to share.

But now, as turns and jumps return into and out of my dancing, and the chaos of an apartment upended recedes into a new state of order, as solitude and family life become integrated, the joining of word to contemplation, here, begins anew~~with gratitude.

Gratitude, gratefulness, appreciation, thanksgiving... to God and to all those near and far and dear who have given their support, love, prayers, helping hands, joy, laughter, kleenex, new phones, more kleenex, humor, more kleenex, and their hearts.  Not unlike 1990, the year in which I lost my voice and was "listened into" a new one; not unlike 2001 with its September story; 2010 has become another year measuring time into "before" and "after." 

In the "after," there are new roads to travel; new paths to carve out ahead.  There are new dances to learn; there is new space set apart, inside and out.  Today, I own my ambivalence about change, and pray thus, "O God, change is all about us and within us, but in your steadfast love and faithfulness, I will~~and do~~put my trust."  So be it; amen.