September 12

Another rainy, foggy, morning. In some ways I am grateful for the rain, it gives me permission to lay low. After two intense weeks of work, burying a beloved parishioner, and living through our first major parish fundraiser, (what FUN there is in fundraisers, especially when the proceeds are going to help others), life has taken on a slower pace. Time to think. I really enjoyed the fast pace of pulling together the church and parish for these two events. I thrive on having lots of good work to take care of. It can be challenging to me, serving a small parish, where not a lot happens on normal basis. I know I tend to get things going and make myself busy, I could get away with doing a lot less for the church. Maybe then I would clean my house more (yes, that's good work too, most days it just doesn't really interest me)...

Back before all this busyness began, in early August, I was in a job search, a finalist for a BIG place, "The Bigger Pulpit" as the NY Times article put it. Needless to say, I was not the one called. They called a man with, as they said, "a bit more expereince than me." My issue is not with who they called, but with the struggle for women to make their way into churches other than the small and often dying....places where our gifts and talents can be fully utilized. I know that bigger is not always better. My desire for that job was not necessarily because it was bigger, but because they had the ability and desire to do ministry - to really make a difference in the world. It was exciting to think of the possibilities.

Now our son has started high school. In some ways the window of opportunity for moving has closed. And yet, the small parish I serve may not be able to retain me as a full time priest, I may need to look elsewhere. This fall will tell. It is a painful struggle, living in the in-between.

Seeking my authentic voice is all about discerning these things. Where am I called to serve? If I am to stay in this small parish I pray that this time will be filled with some exciting spiritual growth for me and the people (and we are!!). If I am to move one I pray that the next call comes with opportunities that will excite and challenge me, and that uprooting my son will be something he can manage. He is a quiet, shy, young man, who tries to pretend he is not...

Seeking my authentic voice is also about having the integrity to speak from my heart, as a progressive liberal, to my traditional and conservative congregation.This is mostly about trust: do I trust the congregation? Do they trust me? Can they listen to my voice and not feel threatened? Can they think about new ideas? Can they consider old ideas in a new way? Can I trust that they won't get angry or upset (and therefor not listen)? After five years of leading this parish, I think we are at a place where that level of trust exists. We have lived through a lot together. Certainly it seems we have found a common ground of passion for reaching out to others in this world - families who lost everything in hurricane Katrina, refugee families, the people in our companion diocese of SE Mexico.

And so, on this foggy morning at the end of summer and beginning of fall, I ponder what might have been...had things gone another way I'd be moving right now. I also ponder what will be, knowing that the future is not set in stone, but fluid. Seeking my authentic voice is about tapping into that place where God speaks within me, listening with my heart, and giving room for the words to be formed and expressed.


Songbird said…
Oh, I find myself in some similar places today, the small church and the iffy fulltime call, the child(ren--in my case) who wouldn't love the idea of moving, the wondering when I can fully use my gifts. I appreciate hearing your story.

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