Apr 24 2006

what’s ahead (at least in the short term)

So I’ve had some time to think about the options for the next few months that I was considering last month.  I have decided that the Los Angeles option is not going to happen.  While it would be a great opportunity, now is not the time for that path.

As for the other option of pursuing some sort of mission work with the church…that is still on the radar, but as an attraction.  Its something that I will explore more if for some reason my current discernment process stalls for some reason.  For now I feel what is best is to keep going down the path I am already on.

It definitely did help that my roommate (and one of my best friends) has decided to stick around for awhile.  He was considering moving back to where his family lives (St. Louis).  So for now the status quo will remain in effect.  Though we do have start looking for a new third roommate as our temporary roommate from Quebec is leaving mid-May.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/whats-ahead-at-least-in-the-short-term/

Apr 23 2006

how did i get here?

So I still seem to be struggling with articulating how I got to the point where I am now with my call.  Or more importantly…how I realized my call.  Its been such a long time that I’ve felt that the priesthood is my “calling” that I have in some ways forgotten how I got to this point. 

Vocationally, I have always felt most fulfilled in my career when I’ve working in positions of service.  I’ve had a few different jobs in my short career history. I’m going to touch on four of the significant ones (at least in terms of my vocational discernment).

First: (in chronological order)
My first longer term job during college was at LensCrafters in the lab manufacturing glasses.  This job wasn’t difficult on an intellectual level…once I learned the processes, it was in fact pretty mechanical/repetitive.  But I felt I was truely helping others to see, eventually learning more than just the manufacturing processes, but also many of the skills of an optician.  I think perhaps this when I first began to understand the rewards of living a life of service to the community.

Second:
My second long term job during college was working at Symantec in the Order Processing department.  This was an entry level job that I hoped would get me in the door to something in the tech support/desktop support/IT fields.  I worked there for about 2.5 years.  The last six months of this job was incredibely draining on both my physical psyche and spiritual self.  I think a large part of this, was that I wasn’t able to see my career as doing anything to serve the community.  Now I know that in a way I was serving the community and that in everything I do, I should be doing it in a spirit of humility and servitude.  I just wasn’t seeing it.

By this time in my academic career, I had also moved on to a goal of going to seminary as opposed to getting a teaching certificate.  Since my career at Symantec was stagnating, I decided to leave my job there and go back to school full time to finish my degree.  That way I could finally get started on my goal of going to seminary.

Third:
After completing my final term at the UofO, I began to look for a full time job to support myself while I began the process towards heading to seminary.  At first I looked mainly in Eugene, however eventually I had to expand my search to Portland, as I was having difficulty finding a job.  Part of the problem during this job search was I knew what I wanted to do for a career, however I couldn’t do it yet, because there was still this process to complete.  So in a way I was rudderless.  I ended up getting a job as an “Admissions Advisor” for an online university.  This was basically an inside sales job.  I emphasize inside because while all our leads were supposably “warm,” many of them were actually requesting some other sort of information when they gave us their information.  In our training we were told to find the “pain” of the person we were talking to and use that to help them complete an education and overcome that pain.  For example, this was not long after a couple of hurricanes had struck Florida.  In training we were told ways to overcome the potential students objections for reasons like “Well I don’t really have a computer because it and my house were destroyed during the hurricane.”  Our reponse was supposed to be along the lines of; “Well what better time to return to school and complete your education while you are rebuilding other aspects of your life as well.”

In the end, I could not ascribe to the philosophy of the place I was working.  I wasn’t comfortable exploiting the “pains” of the community for the benefit of my corporate bosses.  I began to look for another job, eventually finding something with a temporary agency at a substantial paycut.  This paycut was worth every penny in peace of mind however.

Fourth:
At my current job, I am a paralegal/office manager for a small local branch of a larger national law firm.  Our firm practices in consumer bankruptcies.  Once again I am in a position where I am serving the community.  One of the things that I really enjoy about this job is the added benefit of some intellectual stimulation and being able to utilize my administrative skills (which I feel to be one of my better skill sets).  For the first time in a long time, I am enjoying my job, despite it just being a job and not a vocation.  More importantly, I am able to live my “priestly” vocation in my current job.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/how-did-i-get-here/

Apr 22 2006

“just a deacon…?”

So one of the things over heard at my friends ordination on thursday was: “So he’s just being ordained as a deacon?”  To which the woman sitting next to me whispers: “Just a deacon?”  She being in the final stages of her process to be ordained to the deaconate.  For the non-Episcopalians reading this there are two types of deacons in the Episcopal Church.  There is a vocational deaconate…which is the folks that are called to the deaconate as a vocation.  And there is the transitional deaconate, which is what my friend was ordained to.  This is a period of approx. six months before being ordained to the “full” priesthood.

So at my monthly discernment committee meeting on friday, I was telling the members about being at the ordination.  However, none of us were quite sure what the purpose of the transitional deaconate.  So I decided to email my friend and ask him what he thought about it. 

His simple answer was it was a time on going discerment.  A period of time for the church and yourself to make sure that this “call” is the right thing after all.  More importantly (at least in his opinion), is that it gives you chance to begin to identify with the sense of servanthood and servent leadership that is critical for clergy.  I like that idea.

One of the things I did this weekend is re-read the ordination services for both the deaconate and the priesthood.  That was a good thing for me to do…to look at the differences in the service and apply them to what I see my call being.  That however will have to be touched on in a future post. 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/just-a-deacon/

Apr 21 2006

on a ordination

last night i attended an ordination for the first time.  my old chaplain at the UofO was ordained into the transitional deaconate.  for me personally…it was just a public affirmation/ceremony of something that was already apparent.

the service itself was very traditional and formal.  and while that isn’t the style of liturgy i’m used to these days…i was still able to connect with it.  its one of the things i love about the church…the wide variety of liturgical expressions i’ve been exposed to.

it was also interesting for me to view this service with the idea that it could be me as the “subject” behind the service some day soon.  as a result there were a few things that i particularly reacted to.  however those will be touched on in a later blog entry this weekend.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/on-a-ordination/

Apr 20 2006

…Maundy Thursday (cont.)

…one the the places i always feel most connected to my “call” is during the Maundy Thursday service.  It always seems to ground my feeling of the call.  When I’m having doubts about my call to the priesthood…it brings me back into it.  When my call is getting a little egoistic…it helps to bring me back to my knees and ground me.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/maundy-thursday-cont/

Apr 14 2006

Maundy Thursday

I feel such a visceral connection to the services of holy week.  None more so than maundy thursday service though.  I would like my life to mirror the prinicples of the Maundy Thursday service.

And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean.

 When we are down on our knees, washing anothers feet, we are completely vulnerable.  But more importantly we are in service to them, humbling ourselves to them.  It is something I always want to be concious of, being humble and in service to all around me.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/maundy-thursday/

Apr 03 2006

a weekend in retreat (sort of)

the weekend was spent in spokane, staffing the prov 8 young adult & higher ed gathering.  the weekend went off with only a few minor glitches, and everyone seemed to have a good time.  this year’s theme was “turning off the noise” and the gathering was purposefully designed to encourage everyone to listen to the silence.  its not an easy thing…this listening for God in the silence.  my mind often wandered.  especially about what my plans should be for the short term.

my options are this:

First: stay here in portland, at my current job, continue the process, but probably be a little unhappy with my current job.

Second: talk to my friend in LA and see if he needs an assistant for next year.  possibily continue the process in the diocese of oregon, but if need be, start it in LA.

Third: look more into the international mission project from the national church.  possibly go to India or China (or some other place).

The key thing to reconcile with each of these options is my desire to start seminary in the fall of 2007.  Right now I’m really not sure which way I should go.  I need to get a little more information about each of the second two options though.

I have some more decompressing to do on this subject (and the conference), which I’ll have to do later.  My brain is still kinda mushy from the loss of an hour and the drive home yesterday. 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/a-weekend-in-retreat-sort-of/

Mar 29 2006

Practicing Resurrection

So one of the suggestions of my discernment committee was to read the book Practicing Resurrection by Nora Gallagher. I finished the book this morning and there were three passages I bookmarked for further contemplation.

On discernment:

I had thought at the beginning that it would be a matter of looking for signs or listening for voices, not too many steps away from divining tea leaves. But it had become a different matter. It had been as if I were invited into a slow stripping away to expose what lay underneath. Some aspect of myself or a part of the past would rise up, something left unattended and unresolved, to which I’d grown so accustomed I did not see it, like the low-lying tree branch in the backyard I instinctively duck. Often a person would bump into this long-held secret I kept from myself, sometimes by accident or as if by accident, and insist that I take a look.

On monks:

I think they are men who do not expect their faith to end their own suffering.

On exile:

It is typical of exile that it changes you, and when you return, you don’t fit in the way you did before.

As I prepare for the Prov 8 Higher Ed & Young Adult Gathering this weekend, I have really been listening to the silence. I haven’t heard much…but I haven’t been as afraid of the silence either. As I “turn off the noise” this weekend…I will be keeping these three quotes in my head.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/practicing-resurrection/

Mar 26 2006

vocation

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, vocation is:

1. a. The action on the part of God of calling a person to exercise some special function, especially of a spiritual nature, or to fill a certain position; divine influence or guidance towards a definite (esp. religious) career; the fact of being so called or directed towards a special work in life; natural tendency to, or fitness for, such work.

b. The action on the part of God (or Christ) of calling persons or mankind to a state of salvation or union with Himself; the fact or condition of being so called.

2. a. The particular function or station to which a person is called by God; a mode of life or sphere of action regarded as so determined.

b. One’s ordinary occupation, business, or profession.

For at least six years I have felt that my call to the priesthood is to be my vocation. More specifily it will be the vocation of my life. It wasn’t until just a few months ago that I even had an idea of what a vocation I could do if I didn’t head off to seminary and become a priest.

One of my main tasks during this process is to convey to the people along the path that the priesthood is my vocation.

In my mind…its not a matter of if I become a priest, but when I become a priest. I can’t see a reality without that as my vocation. Sure, I could do something else and be succesfull and happy. But something would always be incomplete.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/vocation/

Mar 26 2006

the beginnings

So my journey officially began on Feb 10, 2006. We met at Sam’s Billards close to St. Michaels for our first discernment committee meeting. The four members of my committee are: Carolyn, a Priest and Professor of History; Rob, a spiritual director; Ann, the Ministry for Youth person at church; and Jack, a retired member of the congregation (who i know best from the men’s group).

Our first meeting was a “getting to know each other better” time. Each of the four members told me (and each other) their life+spiritual stories. As preparation for the meeting I had provided a copy of my CV. Because of time constraints, it was decided that I would share my story at the next meeting. I would also provide the group with a Spiritual Autobiography before the next meeting.

I was definitely relieved to finally depart on this journey.

Our second meeting was held on March 17, 2006. This time I would be in the spotlight for the meeting…I was a little nervous. After opening with prayer, we began to talk about what was going on in my life. So I touched base on what was going on with work (not having an attorney in our law office). The discussion really took off when I began to talk about the upcoming Province 8 Young Adult & Higher Ed Conference. The passion I spoke with was pointed out to me after I had finished speaking about the conference. We then transitioned to my spiritual autobiography. As I went through the timelime of my spiritual journey, I talked about my call and the seeds that had been planted along the way to get to where were at this moment. Again my passion and conviction came through in my words. However the members wanted more…they wanted me to discribe my call in feeling language. As time was again running short…it was decided that this would be my assignment for the next meeting.

Rob (with a second by Carolyn) suggested I read Practicing Resurrection by Nora Gallagher as a way to help spur the language to explain the feeling of my call. So I purchased a copy of the book and will be reading through this during the month before my next meeting.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/the-beginnings/

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