What a long winter it has been. I named this year’s “late winter/early spring” season “Betrayal”… meaning, when I said it, that just as soon as one might have thought, “Ah, spring is really here now!”, another cold snap and snow promptly arrived on wicked winds.
Others referred to it as “bitter,” “never-ending,” and “unforgiving.” Amen– it was all that! I fled it for the south– not too far south, but a state or two more southerly than the nexus of cold and snow I came to know as my home this winter.
I thought maybe it was just me– new meds/dosages make me so cold– but the oldest of the folks, here, whose wisdom I trust, said that it really was the worst they could recall– and their memories are purty good, still.
This also, for me, was a winter of discernment. (For folks who do know know what that means in the Episcopal Church, small-d discernment sometimes leads to big-D discernment, and I was doing both.)
Big-D Discernment means considering whether one has a collar of ordination in one’s future. Some of this blog’s readers have been part of an opportunity to participate in that Process, while I took our Diocese’s year-long Exploring Your Ministry course where Discernment begins. In that class we are directed over and over again to look at our selves. We have one class meeting to go, in May, and the outcome of this class started to tune on for me as winter wore on.
What I came to discover was that my Call is, essentially, more diaconal than priestly in nature but not, right now, in role. St. Paul reminds us to remain in the sate in which we already are– when we receive our Call. For me, that is the state of being an intentional Presbytera, and it trumps all other roles right now because it includes, defines, and structures so many other roles.
It is a lay role, professionally though it may be carried out, in the Episcopal Church.
As I told my Bishop and my teacher Kate, I have no doubt that a collar is there waiting for me, down the road, and I will joyfully accept it when it appears… while not specifically seeking it in the near future.
I know also that I am ripe for more education, and healthcare I need, in more structured settings than I might have envisioned several years ago. I can undertake that, and will enroll next year in the same school that educates our deacons. I expect God will continue equipping and forming me for that role, so I will accept invitations to any deacons’ events to which I am invited. I will preach diaconally while not expecting the “rights and privileges” accorded deacons. Kate asked me about an internship. I suppose if logistics allowed I would undertake one of those, though I have already done a series of them as well as a series of diaconal projects much the way our Process defines them.
In the end, all I need to do is “Be Susan who is seen as Being in Christ.” And I need to work on that, quite a bit.
Some things I heard loud and clear this year, from folks around me, because I was taking this class:
Susan said: …. if there is any confusion or stupid thinking in my vicinity, the chances are nearly 100% that I am not the source of the confusion… I will still, 99 times out of 100, turn out to have been the best hope on deck to reach an elegant, simple solution incorporating the whole magilla.
Allison responded: Great insight- and often, though not the source of the confusion, your presence may act as a kind of catalyst to bring out the truth in others in its various guises- I’m not sure what I mean by that, but I have a vision of others rising up to reveal themselves, warts and all, and hopefully learning from it… It seems you are in a place of awakening to awareness of things that have been floating around for awhile. At some level(s) you have known they were there, but as we float down de Nile with our eyes open we can see them and greet them when they bob to the surface, and bring them, dripping, to the open air and deal with them as needed…. you are a powerful presence wherever you go, and power gets a reaction, one way or another. There are those who will find you a sanctuary, others eagerly come and learn, but others will re-act out the baggage that comes up for them, whatever it will be.
Susan said: If I get quicker at declining the power battles, the safety will go up and then it’s on THEM.
Allison responded: … just before I re-read that sentence, I thought of “Shields Up,” a phrase I’ve been using since the turmoil of my first marriage. I taught it to my kids as well. The [stuff] will be flung- that we can’t control. What we can control is how we deal with it. First step is to let it splatter against the shields of our own inner confidence. Then shine your light on it to see if further needs to be done to deal with it. Oh, and a good pair of rubber boots is very useful for wading through and moving beyond it! You are a light-bearer…
In succeeding posts I will share what others have said this year, that resonated through months of wintery prayer and reflection. This post is long enough, and it’s too much Susan and not enough Jesus. And I have a hungry hubby due home soon!
A blessed Holy Week,