Saturday, October 20, 2007

A good, if tentative, beginning

Well last night went well. I'm just so glad that first meeting is over and done with! And the group is such a great group!! Great dynamic, great diversity. There is one person who I can already tell is going to really push me, but in a very good way as long as I don't have too thin a skin. The most fun part of the evening was its beginning....before I even got to church. Granted, I was feeling very vulnerable and open, but it was as if the Spirit made a point of showing me she was with me. The hot Santa Ana winds were blowing fiercely and this always makes the air feel full of possibility. I left home with a little time to spare and drove to a favorite spot in the city, overlooking the hills and ocean beyond...the moon was was so peaceful. I listened to a favorite song about feeling God all around...and it felt so true. This is a funny yet spooky detail. I got to church and met up with one of the committee members....the one I know the best. And as we approached the church doors, they just opened for us, I kid you not, like a hydraulic system or something. Very funny.

ANYWAY, it was a good beginning, overall, if a bit awkward at first. None of us knew how to proceed, since we're starting without any kind of structure. We're going to take some time before we dive into the official diocesan process. I was advised to just show up and let the others who have been on discernment committees before guide the meeting, but everyone kept looking to me to be the leader. It's funny because normally I rise to the occasion and even over prepare when I'm expected to lead a meeting. But because last night was about me and because there were so many unknowns going into it, I was unprepared to lead it. One man said, "We're taking our cues from you. What do YOU want from us?" Hmmm...damn good question. And it was a hard one to answer. But I was able to be myself, truly. I felt naked and it felt as though I were throwing caution to the wind. I could have been much more calculated in my responses, but as it should be, I am choosing to be completely honest. It's the only way forward. At some point, I'm going to have to claim this more and tell the committee what I want. But it's hard to claim things that absolutely. The same man looked straight at me and said, "you know what you want." But I'm not so sure. Or maybe I'm deluding myself. I do know I want to be a priest. I'm not so sure I want to have my own church. I do know I'm gifted pastorally, and that I think that being ordained would open doors otherwise closed. I kind of feel like I just am a priest. But this whole process intimidates me. I know I want to go to seminary and I believe that it is there where I will sharpen my SENSE of call. So in the meantime, I'll just put one foot in front of the other and try to be brave and claim outwardly to them what I can. Our next meeting we'll be talking about "call". I sense that one member in the group feels it's very important that a postulant have a strong "calling." This is a tricky word. It just feels so arrogant and certain. But I cannot deny my experience of being pulled in a very strong way. It's just hard to say that I feel I'm being called to the priesthood. I have a very hard time saying that. Anyway, thank you for your prayers and encouragement. Regardless of outcome, this will prove to be an amazing experience. I am so honored that these 5 people are willing to spend their time and energy helping me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I start my discernment committee tomorrow night. May I have your prayers? Thanks! Prayers that I can just speak my truth. Prayers that the Spirit will be with us. Just prayers for the beginning...this beginning feels very hard. No priest will be present to get us started off and it just feels very amorphous...and now I take my leap and let go of control...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Another poem/prayer

My Sequoia Prayer
by Dr. Monteen Lucas, found in the book Women's Uncommon Prayers.

When I feel tiny, weak, and trembling
Or pulled this way and that by swirls of change,
Too insignificant to be of service,
Too "uprooted" to hold my ground,
I pray my Sequoia Prayer.

Sitting quietly, breathing normally, becoming centered in the present moment --
in this holy instant --
My mind's eye gradually forms and image of a giant Sequoia.
My Sequoia prayer takes form in my heart and soul
As the image forms and fleshes out to fill my being.

Centuries-old roots so wide and deep they have become part of the earth,
Supporting enormous, gnarled trunk that soars into the sky,
Eternity wrinkles carved into its surface, holding character markings for the ages,
Thick, porous bark skin covering the body, letting the trunk breathe,
protecting it from the fires that must come to support its growth,
Green leaves gushing out the top, reaching up to the heavens,
Nurturing birds and other beings, offering up limbs as if in prayer.

Awareness of God fills my soul.
Sequoia image fills my being.

Down into the earth,
Deep into the soul,
Strong into the body.

Breathing calmly, sitting quietly, praying trustingly, becoming
Grounded in humanity,
Rooted in God,
Striving ever upward.
My Sequoia prayer fills my cells, my lungs, my heart, my brain, my soul, my being
With love, grace,light.
With joy, hope.

With the strength of God I need to go on! Thank you, God!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Here we go again

Why do I feel like I'm repeating myself? Oh, but I must get it out. There's no way I'll be able to sleep unless I express these thoughts in some way. So the date of my first discernment meeting is fast approaching. Why does the you-know-what always hit the fan at the last and least convenient moment? I mean, I know I've been voicing these thoughts for some time, but still. Maybe the reality is sinking in. My Husband and I (mostly husband) have issues with our church. Who doesn't have issues with their church? It actually bugs me when people are too judgmental of their churches. There is no perfect church. And my point to my husband was that if he invested himself more in the life of the community, it might transform Sunday mornings for him and make them more meaningful. But his views echo mine, I'm afraid, even though I'm able to transcend them a lot of the time because I love all the programs and the people and the idea of our church. But the leadership is SO uninspired. The two priests stand up at the altar with their hands in their pockets and make inside jokes during the hymns. (okay, I exaggerate...a little). The rector could care less about the Bible, seriously. If he says "big tent" one more time in reference to the Christian Faith I'll throw my hymnal at him. YES, we must be inclusive, but are there no standards whatsoever? Is there absolutely no structure? All he cares about is social justice. Which is so so so so important and a major part of Jesus' message...but there is more. And so my main angst right now is: is it okay, is it a good idea, to begin discernment in a parish that would become my sponsoring parish when I feel so ambivalent about its leadership? My husband is talking about wanting to visit other churches and I exploded at him asking him to be a little more sensitive to where I am in my process...and yes I agree with him, but hello, I'm finally having the guts to start this and now it's all going to go out the window? But he has a good point. It wouldn't be going anywhere, it would just shift and perhaps to a deeper level of honesty in myself. But the thought of starting over again...
I received comments in my last post about my doubts about being in the right denomination. I know that denominations are personal and arbitrary and that what matters is our walk with God, but when you're considering being a leader in the church, denomination means a lot...especially when you feel ambivalent about the choice...and not really that loyal...and when the worship feels dead in your own particular church. I LOVE how progressive our church is and it has challenged and deepened my faith by leaps and bounds. But it's all about pushing the envelope as far as possible...where does that leave me? I feel adrift and unsure what to believe.
Sleepless Somewhere on the California Coast,

Monday, October 1, 2007

A poem/prayer I found...

Friend, you lie quiet,
watching the dawn light color your heart,
dreaming of healing for your hurt body
laying there unanswerable to your will.
You breathe deep and your breath has two sides:
inside and outside. You are on both, being breathed.
The future approaches. You will heal or
you will go back to being God.
Which will you do?

Oh, by all that is beautiful--
May it be that you live!
May your body heal happy and whole!
May energy fill and delight you!
May we join the dance your presence gives!
May you live!

And if you die?
Oh dear self, by all that is beautiful,
Know you are Safe! Everything is All Right.
Forever and Ever and Ever!
The most wonderful, exquisite, familiar
Truth is what is True, and welcomes you.
It will be very easy.

You lie quiet now, praying.
A great healing is coming
and you want to be ready.
The colors of your heart blend
with the light of the morning.
You are blessed.

--Elias Amidon