It's been a long, long time since I've written--as always, evidence that between work, my coursework, and a new computer-free Sabbath, reflection is happening more in my head than on this blog! With the kids quietly settled into bed and Matt at a church meeting (the board we share--deciding eventually that one of us a month was enough to have our family's voice and presence!), there is a brief pause. It feels a bit like the sigh in my day....that great big in-take of air to ensure enough oxygen is flowing to the brain of my life.
This past weekend I attended a prospective student event at a nearby seminary. This is a seminary with a great deal of history, as well as a cooperative relationship with the local seminary where I presently take courses. We persisted to gather despite snow and threatening road conditions, some enthusiastically "working the room" while others sipped luke warm coffee quietly in the corners of the foyer. I was somewhere in between. I knew one person there, and it's in my nature to introduce myself and make the first move, but it's also uncertain space. I'm still not entirely sure how to name what is happening inside of me, and the steps I'm taking to perhaps put the inside to the outside of me.
At no time was this more in evidence than in an opening session designed to meet a small segment of the people there. The instructions were simple enough--tell us your name, where you're from, and what you're doing at such-and-such seminary today. Ok, um, well....the name and where I'm from part came simply enough, and then I followed with an oblique mention of my current seminary courses, exploring my options for the future, etc. How to explain the lifelong monologue (no room for dialogue on this one--I haven't been terribly interested in listening!) with God about my willingness to do anything--anything at all--except this? And what of the Maundy Thursday service when I looked up at the pastors I love and was struck at the privilege of their role? And that moment at the Black Nativity as the choir belted out "Go Tell It On the Mountain," and my questioning, "help my unbelief" self suddenly rose up inside me and simply said, "The world needs Jesus." (Somehow this same self knew then she has a role in bringing him back into the world.) And then there are the images of bread--the realization that serving people at the communion table....facilitating their service to one another...is perhaps the one place where I can offer authentic hope and transformation to a hurting world. I could go on and on. But in that moment, a simple "exploring my options" had to do.
I was struck at the tentative nature of most of our comments. If we were in another setting--a business school or perhaps law--we would have spoken affirmatively. We would have said words like, "I've always been interested in numbers," or "I believe I have gifts to enact justice." But here, the choice seemed not so much ours as God's, and how beautiful it is that we are fearful and hesitant to name God's calling with too great a degree of certainty. It's there, though, for some, and I celebrate the woman who leaned over at lunch to describe her inexplicable desire to lay prone on the altar before God, receiving ordination into service--ordination formally denied her as a practicing Roman Catholic. And of course I could share back the images of the laying on of hands, of all those called before me naming my calling and empowering me with their touch. I wonder about an inner circle of women, and then the many men encircling them....would their touch feel heavy and burdensome, or like lightning flashing through my body, electrifying the moment? But what if it isn't so? What if this isn't to be?
And so I continue to whisper....utterings of a call both known and still unknown to me, hoping that God is somewhere there in the voices.