Friday, April 27, 2007

mixed messages

Well, I'm home from my hour meeting with my priest. It went well, in that I was myself and answered his questions honestly. Which is actually an accomplishment for me. And I know that I look WAY too much to other people to tell me what to do, but I'm still confused. On one hand, he was assuming I was headed (eventually) for seminary. And on the other hand, he asked if I'd read Countryman's book Living on the Border of the Holy, which of course is one of my favorite books, BUT it emphasizes the priesthood of all and is an advocate for the priesthood of the laity. We spent the first half of our time together talking about logistics...that a local seminary with a commuter program would actually be a possibility for me since it meets only one weekend a month...a Friday night and a Saturday day. So that is totally do-able. Then I asked him about finding a spiritual director. He thinks it should probably be an ordained woman and that made me really happy. Someone who has gone through all that and is on that side of things. At least it will be someone who was asked "Why be ordained" and was able to answer it, or become ordained anyway. But then, at the very end I asked him about the discernment committee and that I was afraid you had to be sure of your call before you started because it seems to be a defense of call in committee, rather than a prayerful exploration. But he said no, that at first it's discerning what God is doing in me, then if it becomes clear that it's to ordained ministry, then the discernment committee at that time, switches its focus. That makes sense and makes me want to jump in right now. He would not give me anything. It has to come from me, dammit. He did say he suspects I'll be like Nora Gallagher (author of Practicing Resurrection, a great book about her journey in discernment) who had to consider it really seriously and dive in, before she knew that it wasn't right. He's right. That is me. The only thing he offered was that if we were still having this conversation in 5 years, then that would be really sad. I agree, but what did he mean? Was he saying, c'mon, dive in. But when you're ready. But get ready! Yes, I think that's what he was saying. But HE suggested ordination to two other folks...he suggested it before they did. I guess I just want him to push me. But he's not sure. I'm not sure. Then, at the very end he brought up this annoying job that the church is trying to fill. And he asked me if I'd consider taking it. No! Horrible job. But now I feel bad not taking it. They need someone. Then he said no problem and said he just had to ask, but could I at least pray that the church finds the right person, that I have a vested interest in it since I'm going to be a clerical...seriously, it was a total slip of the tongue, then he changed the subject. So anyway...I guess I just wish he had talked a bit more about my work on the Lenten series...but I didn't even bring that up. I'm supposed to consider some of the names for spiritual directors...the one he is seriously considering for me is not ordained and is a strong advocate for lay ministry. I don't know if that would be good for me. Not now. Maybe later if I realize ordination is not for me. But right now I need someone who has actually gone through that process, who wanted to, who believes in it. Anyway, going to an avant-garde production of the Tempest tonight, then a party afterwards. Should be fun. I'm all be-fuddled. It will take my mind off this. He had me pray at the end and I mumbled something about following God and he said, "May following Jesus be fun." Amen.

To discern or not to discern

Well, I'm about to meet with my priest to discuss stuff. He's the one who intitiated this meeting. He's probably following up on our meeting last October when I just wanted to talk to him about my questions and doubts and leanings toward ordination. The title of this post is silly, because whether or not I decide to actually form an official discernment committee, I'll still be in discernment. Aren't we always? Hopefully? We should always be discerning God's call in our life, always trying to find our grace thing, our charisma that draws people to God...I guess, trying to access God's charisma, Jesus' charisma and cling like a magnet. I'm feeling very weird about this meeting. Partly because I've had weird priest meetings in the past. Most of the weirdness stems from me not articulating what I really feel. I read something on another blog. It was actually a comment posted to Check her out! She's awesome. Anyway, she's also trying to figure out whether or not to pursue ordination and someone wrote back: "In the end I realized it was exactly what I needed to be for me to learn to trust my sense of call and advocate for it. And to grow up." I SO resonate with this. It's time for me to just go for it and to stop looking for outside permission. It's time to own this, dammit. But I still feel less than confident going in to talk with the priest today. Because I have no idea if I should be ordained. I fear the discernment process will be more about defending myself against the third degree, rather than a prayerful exploration in community. I'm sure he'll ask me about my work at the hospital. I've been working as an asisstant to the chaplain. It's been hard and humbling and perspective-giving. Sometimes I've felt like a dufus, stumbling naively into patient's rooms with the audacity to offer some "comfort." And other times I feel like a the Spirit is praying through me to offer the words that person needs to hear in that moment. We'll see...I'll write more after the meeting.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

In the beginning...

This is such an experiment. Why does it feel risky? I have no idea who will ever read this, if anyone, because I have no intention of telling anyone I KNOW about it. I want YOU to read this, dear strangers. I want to document this time in my life and connect with others out there on similar journeys. So first, my name. Why "Grace-thing"? I was listening to a beloved minister preach one Sunday morning and he was talking about the word Charisma. He said it translated (from what, Greek?) to Grace thing. And he appealed to us to figure out what our grace thing was. And it has stayed with me ever since. And I'm still trying to figure it out. Wow this feels so weird. I should just think of it as a journal entry, but I'm so aware that others might read it, but the reality is that no one will for quite some time so I should just relax. I'm an actress turned mother turned Episcopal priest wanna-be, so that about sums me up. I'm trying to figure out this "sense of call" I feel and I'm considering beginning the official ordination process which seems very daunting. I'm a "progressive Christian" with serious issues with both that label as well as its conservative counterpart. {pause} Okay, I just looked up Charisma in the dictionary and it said "divinely appointed gift or spiritual power." Now I sound rather presumptuous. I like grace thing better. So I'll stick with it. That's it for my intro. I feel shy. More later...