Friday, December 29, 2006

What's Around the Corner?

I am sitting here in my office, finalizing a few more details to this coming weekend's New Year's Eve curriculum for our kids ministry thinking over the past year. If I had to define the experience of moving from a progressive Episcopal congregation to a "more conservative than I realized" Church in a very open and moderate denomination - that word would have to be shell-shocked.

I know, the word seems a bit harsh. But the reality is that there is so much that seminary doesn't even begin to teach us about. Nor does the 3 quarters of Field Education and the 1 quarter of CPE work. Sure, I can create a liturgy, be decent enough in my preaching to ensure not preaching any grossly obvious heresies yet there is so much more than that.

Personally, It was a year of physical pain and heartache. My back had a major blowout with two ruptured discs and a reinjury in the middle of the summer. Trying to do the leg work of ministry while in excruciating pain was a nightmare. Being made aware that my mother who at 82 is quickly moving into her final transition years reminded me of the challenges of having "older" parents - which made me rethink about whether being single and in the ministry really made a good mix for becoming an adopted parent thus painfully again laying that dream back down and acknowledging that for the time being it is not to be pursued.

Ministry wise, I didn't expect the lonliness. Perhaps it is the fallout of living in an well to do suburb. Perhaps it is the the fact that you can take the girl out of the city but not the city out of the girl." Perhaps I lived in the awesome community founded in the "near" barrio of East Orange Grove Blvd. in Pasadena too long. I missed the diversity of life that I had in the city. And I couldn't let go of it no matter how much I attempted.

My Spiritual Director shared that more than likely that God was making aware of how much the church in America struggles with true acceptance of those who are unlike ourselves. That the Spirit was in the process of clarifying what the true passion and heart of my ministry might include - if I allowed the Spirit to work within me. Of course that means finally yielding to the possibility that this was merely an interim placement to knock out of my spirit some presumptions that I possessed while gaining further distance from the insane ministry internship position in my first two years of seminary.

And in the midst of the weariness there was this grace filled place that allowed me to really rethink my faith journey to this point, consider the lessons that I have garnered and focus on recreating a more accurate vision for my ministry and I pray my life. In the process of this, I am letting go of the dreams of what I thought ministry would/could be like and trying to be receptive to what God's designs might be for me. Secretly, I wish that God had those burning bush moments with me like Moses, but that is not in his/her plan. Part of the joy and mystery of the spiritual journey is not knowing what is around the corner yet beliving that when you get there you won't be alone.