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.
Jul 14 2006
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Jun 27 2006
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/
May 13 2006
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.
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Apr 22 2006
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.
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Apr 21 2006
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
…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 03 2006
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.
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Mar 29 2006
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.
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.
I think they are men who do not expect their faith to end their own suffering.
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.
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Mar 26 2006
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.
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Mar 26 2006
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.
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