“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Monday, May 28, 2012

Irrevocable Call

"For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29)

The summer of 2006 was spent in high anticipation, with the hope that I would receive a new call. I interviewed for, what I thought, was the perfect position. I was one of two finalists and really wanted the position.

So it was terribly distressing to me to not be the one called. In God's good grace, and some six years of hindsight, I can say with all confidence that I would have hated the job. That it would have felt confining and stifling, and that my gifts would not have been enabled to flourish.

How very hard it was to trust the Spirit when doors were slammed in my face and I feared that the flaw was in me, (surely I did something wrong in the interview process?) rather than, perhaps, the idea that God had my back.

In my despair, that hot summer of 2006, I found myself searching for "what next?" The parish I was serving, a community I had grown to love deeply, was nonetheless feeling like shackles around my heart. The community was built upon very conservative principles, taught by a priest who had been in place for 29 years, who had very strong feelings about gays and lesbians (Love the sinner, hate the sin - OMG!). The priest was beloved by many. He had a cult following who adored his wife and her ministry of "channeling Jesus" (my words). She believed Jesus spoke to her and gave her messages for specific people and for people in general.

It was hard to follow a ministry like that one. Especially because I have a far more expansive understanding of God's nature: God loves everyone, equally. And, it didn't help that people still went to the former rector and his wife for "words from Jesus." (As if Jesus didn't speak to me, or to any of us, but only to this woman).

That summer I read an article in the Christian Century magazine about an Internet based clergy women's group called The RevGals (RevGalBlogPals). I literally put the magazine down and started this blog.

It was a challenge at first to learn how to manage the "code," to set it up and create links and so forth. But more curious to me was creating a title for the blog. There are many wonderful, creative titles for blogs!
I choose "Seeking Authentic Voice" because I felt as if that was what I was doing in life. Seeking ways in which I could explore my authentic voice because the context in which my voice was primarily expressed was not a place in which I could be truly authentic. It was a place in which every word was carefully spoken, written, expressed. Careful to express a sense of hospitality and love, rather than endorse the narrowness of a tiny God who had strict rules about who could belong to our community.

Seeking Authentic Voice became the place for me to explore words and ideas, hopes and dreams. I was for a time anonymous,  using the pseudonym, "mompriest." (Because I was a mom of adolescent kids and a parish priest in the Episcopal Church - and yes we are called priests). Eventually I switched to using my real name - "Terri" - which seemed to be yet another step in claiming authenticity.

I know I am not a "writer,"  in the "professional" way. I don't think too long and hard about sentence structure - I was bored stiff by technical writing class. My writing is intuitive. It's not exactly how I speak, but it is reflective of how I think. I don't have aspirations to write a book or craft deeply moving essays.

However, it is always my hope that what I write resonates with others.

This blog is more like a public journal. I no longer write much about my personal life. Rather I tend to reflect on that which concerns me in my spiritual life - prayer, faith, religion, spirituality.

In a certain way this blog has become a place for my prayer life. I tend to write in the morning, usually with a comment on a book I am reading (such as Chittister's "Called to Question.") or a poem or prayer. I post my Sunday morning sermons because they are often the fruit of my wrestling with scripture - always a good thing to do I think - wrestle with scripture.Sometimes I post photos. Often I play the RevGals Friday Five.

I no longer feel like I am seeking an authentic voice. I feel like God has landed me in a place where I am able to be fully authentic (thank you God, and the good people who called me here). I recognize what an amazing gift this is, following many years of navigating very rough terrain. True, the journey for authenticity never really ends. But at least now even the journey feels authentic. In these six years I have come to understand more fully the idea that the "gifts and calling of God are irrevocable." Irrevocable because, regardless of where we turn on the journey, what decisions we make or which are made for us, God journeys with, God has our backs.

The authenticity of our calling is to trust that our strengths are gifts for ministry regardless of how we live out those strengths. Each of us has a vocation, whether ordained or not, which can be lived out in an office, the home, a religious institution, or some other way.

All of this is to say, I'm not sure how long I will keep this blog. People rarely comment anymore. Which I know is part of the blog culture. But without people to dialogue with I wonder about my desire to write here. It is beginning to feel too much like a monologue, and I could do that in other ways. So, we'll see, I may decide this summer, after six years, that it's time to move on. Every journey, every call, has twists and turns and new directions....