Discerning the way forward

25 10 2007

So, I had my meeting to discuss a way forward in the discernment process … one of my priests went with me. We had a very candid discussion about my application and the findings that came out of my meetings to date. I thought that it was a very positive and productive meeting because we were able to come up with actionable ideas of projects and other things I can work on in my parish and the wider diocese. The tone of the meeting was very candid and cooperative. There was a great deal of clarity on all points of view, and most importantly, we came up with constructive ideas.

The bottom line, of course, is that I will withdraw my application for a time and hope to reactivate it in a year or so and come back to the diocese with the things I have worked on. I was told from the beginning this was a “great gift” and I got the impression from various folks that this is rare, if not unheard of.

I apparently have made some very positive impressions on quite a few people, or I would have been told “no” at this point or allowed to continue and then told “no” at a later date, neither of which would have been pleasant. But, I am taking this bit of news and our discussions today as a sign to pause and then resume our work at a later date.

While I remain disappointed that things have not gone as I would have liked or expected, I am grateful for the opportunity and the challenge to get “in the trenches.” I don’t know exactly how that will take shape as of yet, but we kicked around a few ideas that I had brought up. They were warmly received and I was encouraged to run with it.

Finally, I am ever mindful of St. Paul’s words, “All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) God’s hand, I am sure is in all of this, but I admit I don’t entirely see how.  However, a great deal of fun and adventure is waiting to be had to discover what that hand is doing and where it is pointing. Or even, if that hand is a singing naked sock puppet!

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6 responses

26 10 2007
Grandmère Mimi

Rev Boy, those words from Romans are among my favorites. I believe that you can hold on to them. I’m sorry for the delay, but I pray that, in the end, it will come out right for you.

26 10 2007
tobias

This is clearly painful, but the good news, as you correctly see, is that it is not a No — nor an OK but we’ll dump you later (that used to happen a good bit and lead to a lot of bitterness.)

This will actually give you more time to get some practical experience under your belt — and believe me, that’s one thing you don’t get in seminary. It also gives you a chance to reflect on some of the spiritual issues that often get swept up in the whirl of the seminary process. You will enter seminary when the time comes a much more “ready” person, and so able to take best advantage of what they offer.

I don’t want to sound like I’m dissing seminary. Far from it. Though to be true, when I first approached the Bishop about ordination, having a good bit of church experience under my belt and coming into the process at a more, shall we say, mature time of life (!) and wanting to get on with it as much as possible, I asked if I could “read for orders” — that is, skip seminary. No way, said the Bishop; and I can assure you that while at the time I though, “What a bother!” I became unashamedly glad he said that, and made me do the “normal” route of training. I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for that — for which I am grateful even if there are others who aren’t!

So keep strong in the call of God, and make use of this time for good — God willing, a few years from now you will look back with gratitude for the unexpected blessing of delay.

27 10 2007
Doorman-Priest

You seem to be reconciled to this delay now and you are sounding more upbeat about how the future may pan out.

I generally rant at people who try to throw the “its all part of God’s wider plan” routine at you because it is often a cop out. Give yourself a month to process this and the implications and post again. I really want to know how you see it then.

D.P.

27 10 2007
KJ

I’ve not been in the Land Episcopal long enough (3 years) to know if this is true or not, but I believe the process of discernment used is a wiser process than the “career process” typically used in Evangelical Land. It seems like in my “past life”, I encountered more than my fair share of individuals who should not have been pastors. Say! Read all about it in the tell-all book “Fleeing Fundamentalism”. Oy!

Peace

27 10 2007
"That Kaeton Woman"

RB,

I can still tap into the anxiety I felt when my bishop asked me to enter into a year’s discernment with him before officially beginning the process leading toward ordination.

I was only the third woman to come before him to seek ordination and he had voted and campaigned against it. Then, he got sober and came out and it was transforamtional for him.

He asked that I spend the time finishing my degree and meeting with him on the first Friday of every month for discernement and prayer.

Turns out, that was one of the best spiritual years of my life. I hated the wait, but the time spent deepened my faith and my bishop’s understanding of my vocation. It also strengthened my relationship with my sponsoring congregation – something that proved to be invaluable when the theological rubber hit the road.

I will keep you in my daily prayers as you discern a way forward.

Oh, and about that sock puppet.

Don’t give up your day job.

18 09 2008
Jeffrey

Serveral years ago my partner was also asked to withdraw his application for a year, which he did; the reason given was that he was too young. He reapplied a year later, was accepted into the long process, was ordained to the priesthood five years ago, and is now part-time rector at his church, so hang in there.

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