I met with the lady yesterday to sign the paperwork so that I could officially be hired for my fellowship. Basically, what I'll be doing is going into a high school classroom and working with a teacher to see what we can do to get kids excited about science. I love watching anyone get excited about science and especially kids. I initially decided on a career in science when I was in high school, though the direction of entomology came later. I love how much we don't know about the world and the excitement of finding out new things. This is pretty much a perfect job for me and is going to pay a decent wage. I've never made this much money in a year ever.
Anyway, we got to talking about how much work it's going to be to keep up with what I have to do for this and I mentioned that I have a family and I'm "very active in my church." Well, I should have known better than to say a thing like that because the natural follow-up question is "What church do you go to?" I suppose it would have been subtler if I hadn't been wearing my petite purple pagan shirt, but that's neither here nor there. My heart skips a little every time I explain that I'm Pagan, that we don't have a physical church building, and that we meet in each others' homes. Fortunately, she took it in stride. One thing I can say about Yankees is that they're less likely to freak out on me when I say something like this-- not unlikely, but less likely. She very kindly reminded me that not everyone, not even the teachers, will be so open-minded and she told me a story about one of the chemistry teachers who left to teach at a Seventh Day Adventist school and said that she was glad not to be working with atheists and evolutionists anymore.
While I do appreciate her concern about how my faith will be received in the public school system, I've lived in the South my entire life, I've gone to public schools in the South since Kindergarten, and I know what it's like. I assured her that I'm not going to be too open about being Pagan and that I'm going to be professional, but there's still this thread of worry. What if I happen to wear a pentacle one day? What if it comes up?
I have to keep reminding myself that by wearing a pentacle or being Pagan, I'm not doing anything wrong. I don't want to be overly flamboyant and rude about my faith, but it's okay to be who I am. If I were Muslim, would I take off my hijab because I was in a classroom in Murfreesboro, TN? I'd consider it, I really would, but my commitment to my gods is bigger than this. It's my commitment to my gods that led me to science in the first place and though I'm really afraid, I think it's ultimately going to be okay.