Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Five: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Posted by Sally at RevGalBlogPals:

When I began work here at Downham Market a wise friend told me that after one year I would see a few changes and sense God at work- years two and three would cause me to question and to wonder why I had chosen to accept the post here and in year four I might see the beginnings of something new.

And so with that in mind alongside yesterdays celebrations I bring you Friday 5 Looking back, looking forward..

1. Share a moment/ time of real encouragement in your journey of faith

I had been looking for a call to ministry that fell within certain geographic parameters for about a year and a half. During part of that time I was finishing up my last position, in which I was an interim head of staff for about 20 months. For another part of that time I was the interim chaplain at a campus about an hour from home. But for a significant portion of those 18 months, I was without a sense of where God was calling me. I had limited my search geographically because of my children: their father and I had agreed that neither of us would move until Petra (who is entering 9th grade this fall) was off for College, so that the kids wouldn't lose a parent by relocation. So I was convinced that my prior covenant-- to be the best possible parent to my children-- took precedence over my call to ministry in that regard.

During this time I preached for a number of churches of other denominations. I seriously considered switching denominations, as well. At times I considered doing other work entirely. At one point I had an interview lined up for a public radio job, but I pulled out when I realized I would have to work weekend mornings. I considered investing my savings in a wine shop. (Really!!!).

About a month ago a sudden sense of calm came over me. I decided that I would probably end up where God wanted me to end up. I decided that , actually, I believe firmly that I will end up where God wants me to be. Once I surrendered to that somewhat irrational confidence, I felt my preaching was freer, my life was more joyful, the future rosier than I had felt in a long time. This was a moment of great peace and joy and encouragement in my ministry.

A week later I was offered the call I've been waiting for.

2. Do you have a current vision / dream for your work/ family/ministry?

If I have a vision or dream for my work, it involves what I like to think of as "falling in love and getting married." I really feel that I am called to journey with a particular congregation for the long term. I want to be with them through lots of life transitions. I want to baptize a child and then confirm that same child and see him or her go off to college and find the love of her or his life, and then be there to witness that too. I want to be with people when they are well and strong and when they are nearing the end of their lives. I want to be there for the whole of it.

This is my vision for my life with those I love as well. Presence. Joy in that presence. Celebration of all the transitions.

3.Money is no object and so you will.....

Fix everything that's wrong with my house, and then remodel the enormous attic to be my bedroom, with skylights.

Take my loved ones to Italy and England and India and Thailand and Australia (a bit at a time).

Buy an alb from WomenSpirit.

Or... was I supposed to save the world? Sheesh.

OK, institute universal health care in the US-- ok, everywhere in the world!

Require stringent emissions standards on all our cars, trucks, you name it.

Institute mentoring programs for all our struggling youth, in cities, in rural areas.

Reignite the sense that our prison system might strive for reform and not simply punishment; strive to have every convicted felon leave prison with their GED and Associate's degree, as time permits.

Change universal notions of beauty so that our young women don't think they have to be anorexic to be lovely.

Make sweating de rigeur, so that people don't feel the need to air condition so much of their lives.

Outlaw handguns. Period.

Spark initiatives to encourage everyone to eat at least one entirely local meal each day. (Will save 1,000,000 barrels of oil per day, supposedly).

(You will notice that a sense of omnipotence has accompanied the money... is that how it happens?)

4. How do you see your way through the disappointments? What keeps you going?

Um, I combat life-sucking power with chocolate.

Hugs. Sorry, so pedestrian, but so, so vital. Human contact with the people I love and who love me. Then sitting in front of something truly delightful, like House, with my kids, and laughing and eating popcorn.

Seriously... I have often thought that God get's my attention with the 2' X 4' of devastating trauma so that I will pray better and harder. And I do, for a while. Until I get comfortable. Then I need something scary like a huge job or new call to get me on my knees again.

Communion... sitting in the church, sharing the bread and the fruit of the vine with people whose inner lives, whose true stories, I can only guess at. But there we are all, God's wounded family, and we bind ourselves to one another and to God in that simple and profound act.

Walking along the river, watching the mist rise, and the little fingernail moon.

5. How important are your roots?

Well, I have an appointment with my hairdresser in just a couple of weeks....

My parents made me the person I am today, all four of them... the love and nurture of the people I have always called Mom and Dad, as well as the biological material and loving beginning given by my birth mom... My love of the ocean from my beachside upbringing, my sense of the eternal from cavorting in the waves of the endless sea. My love for the holy from my Roman Catholic girlhood... reading the lives of saints, praying the rosary, learning something important about God from this woman who was God's mother.

Huge, the power of roots for this Roman Catholic girl turned Presbyterian minister.

Photo courtesy of flickr and Erik K.Veland.


Sally said...

excellent post- love that healing chocolate- and your thoughts on #2 to see a child from baptism to adulthood in the faith how wonderful...

... as for that remodelling go for it- I am sure that we are allowed to think of our families as well as world hunger!!!

Diane said...

wow. #3 was all-encompassing (you really do want to save the world)... liked what you said about one congregation for the long haul, too...

Prairie Pastor said...

Chocolate does go a long way toward making the world right, doesn't it? Truly appreciate your answer to question one--I'm always amazed what happens in my own life when I settle down and let God whisper the way (o.k. sometimes a frying pan to the head is needed, but one way or the other the divine One always wins out, and sooner saves a lot of heartache. Peace and blessings in your call. May you have a long tenure with them.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your story on's hard to surrender the dream but worth it.

Serena said...

Great responses ... all of them! Thanks for sharing.