Love and Sin

“In a sense, this terrible situation is the pattern and prototype of all sin: the deliberate and formal will to reject disinterested love for us for the purely arbitrary reason that we simply do not want it.  We will to seperate ourselves from that love.  We reject it entirely and absolutely, and will not acknowledge it, simply because it does not please us to be loved.  Perhaps the inner motive is that the fact of being loved disinterestly reminds us that we all need love from others, and depend upon the charity of others to carry on our own lives.  And we refuse love, and reject society, in so far as it seems, in our own perverse imagination, to imply some obscure kind of humiliation.”

–Thomas Merton “The Seven Story Mountain

It is an interesting idea that sin is really just a rejection of love.  To be honest, I had to go to the dictionary to make sense of the term “disinterested love.”  My first thought when reading this paragraph was “how can you love something disinterestly?”  What the dictionary reminded me was disinterest is not the lack of interest, but the lack of self-interest.

I think that this is one of the most powerful aspects of the character of Jesus.  His complete disinterested love for the whole world.  It is an ideal that is simply amazing in scope.  Just a fraction of this type of love would make such a difference in this world.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/love-and-sin/

mountain climbing

Often when we have a goal in mind we try to take the straightest possible route to that goal.  However often, the straight route isn’t always the fastest or best route.  The example given to me this morning was of a sail boat tacking.  Since I haven’t done much sailing in my life, I can relate to it more in terms of hiking and climbing mountains.  When trails are built and there is a high grade of elevation gain to overcome, they are often built with switchbacks.  While in terms of distance, the trail becomes longer, it is actually easier on our bodies and often faster then trying to head straight up the side of a mountain.  (Actually come to think of it the principles are the same in sailing at trail building)

At my discernment meeting this morning, the group decided to bring itself to an end.  As a group (me included) it was discerned that now is not the time for me to pursue the priesthood.  It wasn’t a no, but a not yet.  I’m incrediably thankful for the members of my discernment group and all of the support they gave me throughout this part of the process.

So what does this all mean for me now?  Honestly, I have no clue.  For the immediate future, I am working up at OHSU as a Performance Analyst (at least that is what they are going to call the official position once they post it).  It’s actually a pretty cool job as office jobs go.  When they post the permanant position it’ll be only 0.6FTE, however that might not be a bad thing as it would give me the opportunity to explore other things.

What I need to remember now is: (1) Look for the positive things in the developments of the last week. (2) Learn from all the events that have affected my life in the last six months. (3) Pray and the Pray again.  (4) Be thankful for the wonderful friends I have.

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a rhino walks

a rhino walks

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crossroad blues

I went to the crossroad
     fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad
     fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above “Have mercy, now
     save poor Bob, if you please.”
Mmmmm, standin’ at the crossroad
     I tried to flag a ride
Standin’ at the crossroad
     I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me, babe
     everybody pass me by
Mmm, the sun goin’ down, boy
     dark gon’ catch me here
oooo ooee eeee
     boy, dark gon’ catch me here
I haven’t got no lovin’ sweet woman that
     love and feel my care
You can run, you can run
     tell my friend-boy Willie Brown
You can run
     tell my friend-boy Willie Brown
Lord, that I’m standin’ at the crossroad, babe
     I believe I’m sinkin’ down

— Robert Johnson “Cross Road Blues (Take 2)”

I am standing right at the crossroad right now.  I need to fall down on my knees and ask the Lord, “Where oh where do I go now?”  I feel lost, and I’m not sure how to find my way home.  The paths that I know are in front of me are, the road to seminary and teaching English in Japan for at least a year.  Other than that, its an unknown path.  My ever precarious finances may make the Japan option a little more difficult.  I’ll need to have about $2000 set aside to cover airfare and expenses when I first get over there.  Which is of course about $2000 more than I have set aside in savings at the moment.  The road to seminary feels like its a little impassable for the moment.  Leaving just the unknown.

I honestly don’t know what I am going to do, if not on the path towards seminary.  The Japan option would just be a short detour on that path more than anything else.  If I do deviate from the seminary path, then where do I go, what do I do?  Do I stay in Portland?

Right now, all I can do is fall down on my knees and listen for that still small voice.

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Excerpts from the Ordination Service

From the Book of Common Prayer:

As a priest, it will be your task to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fashion your life in accordance with its precepts.  You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor.  You are to preach, to declare God’s forgiveness to penitent sinners, to pronounce God’s blessing, to share in the administration of Holy Baptism and in the celebration of the mysteries of Christ’s Body and Blood, and to perform the other ministrations entrusted to you.

In all that you do, you are to nourish Christ’s people from the riches of his grace, and strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come.

Will you respect and be guided by the pastoral direction and leadership of your bishop?

Will you be diligent in the reading and study of the Holy Scriptures, and in seeking the knowledge of such things as may make you a stronger and more able minister of Christ?

Will you endeavor so to minister the Word of God and the sacraments of the New Covenant, that the reconciling love of Christ may be known and received?

Will you undertake to be a faithful pastor to all whom you are called to serve, laboring together with them and with your fellow ministers to build up the family of God?

Will you do your best to pattern your life [and that of your family, household, or community] in accodance with the teachings of Christ, so that you may be a wholesome example to your people?

Will you persevere in prayer, both in public and in private, asking God’s grace, both for yourself and for others, offering all your labors to God, through the mediation of Jesus Christ, and in the sanctification of the Holy Spirit? 

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discerning the possibilities

It has been an interesting few months for me and my discernment process.  I’m not entirely sure if it has completely broken down or just taken a few steps backwards.  As it is for the moment, my committee is scheduled to meet again on Aug. 18th.  I still have not completed the last “formal” assignment the committee gave me back in May.  However, I am going to work on the essays over the next week and see if I can’t get something done for it.

What I’m most trying to figure out right now is what to do in the near term.  I have an interview with a company to teach english in Japan on Aug. 9th.  I’m still trying to decide whether or not I’d take the job if it is offered to me.  On one hand, it’ll be an incredible experience.  I’ll get to live abroad for a year, work on becoming semi-fluent in another language and eat lots of sushi.   On the other hand, the timeline to head off to seminary will be most definitely postponed.  One of the things that I’m wrestling with however, is whether or not my summer hiccup hasn’t already pushed back seminary until at least 2008.  If I do end up accepting a position in Japan, I will probably move my stuff down to Eugene and do some temp work there until I leave in order to save as much money as possible.

If I do end up deciding to stick to the current course of action and stay in Portland there are things I must decide here as well.  Things with my roommate have still not recovered to a point where I’d like them to be.  I’ve made an effort to move on from the anger and hurt I felt from his actions of a couple months ago.  For the most part that has made things a lot better.  However, every once in awhile, I really get a little down because he doesn’t really make any effort to include/invite me in/to things even though I have.  So I’ll need to decide whether or not I need to find a new place to live.  It just sucks sometimes feeling so alone in a place, even though you have a roommate…and feeling alone even if he’s there.

So that’s where things are at for the moment.  I’m not sure if I’ll post again until after the discernment committee gathering on the 18th. 

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

blogging

One of the things about blogging is that it can sometimes get you in trouble.  Recently this has been in the news again with the firing of the writer of petiteanglaise.com [Read the CNN Article].  This phenomena has even made it into internet slang as being “dooced” named from the website of one of the first publicized instances of this happening [dooce.com]

So what does this mean for this blog?  Well for starters it makes me consider the things I post about (at least publicly).  While this blog isn’t widely publicized, it wouldn’t be that hard for someone to find it if they wanted to.  So there have been a few things that I’ve wanted to write about, however have refrained from posting them, because I’m not sure how someone down the road will read into them.  Eventually, I hope to be able to protect some entries, allowing known people to access them (through a login and password).  However the plugin for the blogging software I’m currently using does not quite have the functions I want yet.  A pending version looks to be more of what I’m looking for.  Until then, some of my entries will remain unpublished.

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the times….they are a changing

My process has gone into a bit of a self-imposed hiatus. While I have managed to pick up a temporary job that will allow me to have the money to cover August’s rent, my financial situation is still tenuious at best. Its a little frustrating to me, as I was finally making some progress on my path to seminary. While I haven’t had a lot of time to concentrate on this process in the past month or so, I have been doing a little work on it as well. I recently re-read Bill Countryman’s book Living on the Border of the Holy: Renewing the Priesthood of All. Once I get a little more settled with my current job situation, I’ll probably re-read it again, as there was definitely more that I wanted to delve into with that book. Especially in regards to my call towards an ordained ministry. I really like the idea though, that we are all priests in the church and that the “ordained” priesthood is just a sacramental priesthood and that we shouldn’t view the ordained/laiety groups as opposites.

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discernment and the state of the state

I have for approximately six years been striving towards a goal of attending seminary and becoming an Episcopal priest. It has been a long journey to get there and get to the point where this goal was within site. One of the first things holding me up on this journey has been the completion of my undergraduate degree. Between my poor study habits and only going to school part time, this ended up taking quite awhile. However, with the completion of a French class this past spring I have finally completed the requirements to receive my degree. The second thing holding me up in my process has been moves. Sometimes this is just moving parishes in the same town, but it has also been moving cities as well. But all that aside, I am finally have a discernment committee going and am more or less officially in the process towards gaining approval to go to seminary on an ordination track.

Which brings me to the last couple of months. After a time of relatively little struggle and making some progress to my goal, I’ve encountered some difficult times. First, it was at a relationship level. Then just about the time that I was coming to terms with that struggle, my job situation went downhill. At the firm where I have been working there has been a lot of turnover among the office management. Eventually that has led to my dismissal as the last manager and my personalities did not gel. While this wouldn’t be as big of a deal in a bigger office, our office was basically a two person office. So it was important that our personalities were compatible.

So what does this all mean to my journey. Well, to be honest I’m not really sure. I have been struggling with some doubt in regards to it or at least the timing. I feel a little lost right now, in both my love and work lives. I’m struggling a lot with fear right now. What happens if my process stalls? What do I do if it does? What happens if I don’t find a new job quickly? I have faith…but I also have doubts. I still feel very strongly about my call to the priesthood, yet I struggle to put it in the right words. Most of all I wonder what is next for me. What do I do now…before I can go to seminary?

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2006/discernment-and-the-state-of-the-state/

the road less traveled

I’ve lately been looking through some of my old poems in order to help find some of the ways that I began to understand my call to the priesthood.  The poem below was written when I was in very early stages of understanding my call.

2nd_look.png

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