I feel quite lucky. I have a love for all things computer-related, but more for programming than any other aspect. I have worked in various parts of the Information Technology world. I cut my eye-teeth in my thirty-four (and counting) year career by working on mainframe systems that were fifteen years old when I was born in 1965. I have worked in hardware maintenance, software support, desktop support, server management, information security, disaster recovery and digital storage. Now, I work as a data retrieval specialist, and a data systems research. Probably the closest technical concept to what I do is that of a Data Sciences specialist.
The primary focus of my job is to write retrieval statements in Transact-SQL (Structured Query Language) to pull data related to the students, faculty, and classes at my college. From that data, other people will seek out trends, and other pieces of information that will help them determine what decisions to make related to some task or support a decision that they are already pushing towards getting into motion. In a manner of speaking, my job is to be of service to others within my collegiate institution – a concept that plays very close to my personal understanding of my own path of Druidry, and my understanding of a role as a priest.
Stating that I love doing what I do is a deeply understated position. I get paid to “talk” to a database system in its own language. I am asked to resolve pieces of a wider puzzle. And over time, I can see the results of what I do emanating throughout the campuses and buildings and corridors of the college. Some days I come home frustrated over something that happened at work. But before I find my well-worn location in the bed for some much-needed sleep, I remind myself that what I do is assist others. The results of my tasks help those people do their jobs better. And when they do their jobs better, they can better assist the students of the college, who are the primary reason that the college exists. I do love my job.
The fact that I find my job challenging, and is something that I enjoy doing, makes each work day more pleasurable than frustrating. I have said it before – I am a Pagan. A polytheist. A Priest of Crow. A Druid. And while any part of that formula can sometimes make my daily Spiritual life a little confusing – I love who I am. I am comfortable with most of those terms. Yes, I still struggle with the idea of describing myself as a Priest. My devotionals to Crow, which happen every evening for me, have great depth and meaning. My connections with Crow, Coyote, Flidais are each unique, personal, and extraordinary in ways I cannot adequately describe. Nothing I have done in honoring any of Them has felt like a chore. Rather, every motion made, every word intoned have felt more like an embrace somewhere between that of an intimate lover and a cherished family member.
When I first left high school – an all-boys Catholic school – I stepped towards the area of the Southern Baptists. It was an easy place to find. In Shreveport, Louisiana, you cannot go more than three blocks without encountering some concept of such a place. The people were enthusiastic and friendly to a new face amongst their congregation. But the Sunday services had an antiseptic feel to it. Very clean, very polished, very rote. Every motion made by any individual in a leading role of the service seemed overly practiced – nearly robotic. After attending services every Sunday for four months, it was painfully obvious that it was. The hymns may have been different, but the singing had no emotion or joyous intonation behind it. The sermons, preached at high decibel levels for certain phrasings and passages, were meant to sound frightful – warning people of what would happen if “wickedness” were not tossed to the side in favor of “righteousness”. Aside from those phrases, the rest of the sermons were wooden in tone. And rarely was there a mention of the people in the congregation being in good faith with their own spirituality. For me, 120+ days were more than enough for me to reach the conclusion that this was not for me. There was no life in any of this – plus much of it was taught to the congregation in a manner that removed the beauty and individual life in the “world beyond” as I had come to term the perception of the Gods. It took a little longer before I realized that what I had been feeling was my perception of Polytheism.
Why do I bring up this moment of Christianity in my post? After all, I claim (and still do) to have no “beef” with Christians at all. And here I am slamming them for what they believe. Except that I am not. Their belief system, the delivery method that had been used within this church (and quite a few others I experienced afterward) had a lack of life for me. Perhaps it had life and meaning for those that were practicing it – I cannot say for certain because I am not them. I do not know what was deep in their hearts. Only they can answer that with factual perception. And it is not for me to ask. However, if I had stayed within that belief system, I would have found no joy. I would not have found any true bearing of love. In essence, my own Spiritual life would have slowly died and withered.
There was nothing wrong with me trying that particular belief system out when I was searching for my corner in the world. Just as there is nothing wrong with people trying out whatever aspect of Paganism, Polytheism, or what have you. We have all jokingly referred to these Seekers before. These white-lighters, seeking a place of “peace, love, and white light” above all else. These rainbow-hugging, granola-eating hippy-wanna-be folks – seeking a place of easy physical sex, and individual bonding – seeking their own communes whatever that may be. Some of these folks stay, learn, grow, and become the Priests and Priestesses that help lead and grow our widening Pagan community. They stay because they find something that they embrace whole-heartedly. Something that calls within them. They stay because it is something that they love. Love about the rituals, the spellwork, the spirituality, and the people they have encountered. Because they have found their Spiritual home.
I work at the college because I believe in the mission that it upholds in educating people, preparing them for better jobs, more knowledge, personal growth…and because what I do allows me to be of service to these students, and to my fellow coworkers. I am good at my job because I enjoy what I do. I am becoming a better Priest, a better devotee to my odd triad of Gods and Goddess, and continuing to learn what means to be a Druid because I love who I am and what I am becoming. And I am completely grateful for it all. For without any of it, I would not be who I am. And I love who I am becoming, who I have been, and who I am now. Warts and all.