Monday, October 3, 2011

Love is not a victory march -- it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

I've been struggling lately with my call.  Oh, not with whether or not I'm called, or what I'm called to, but rather where.

Shortly stated:  I'm a little tired of the church.

I feel like there is so much work to be done before any real work can be done.  I have the same conversations over and over and over again, about biblical authority, about transforming worship, about self-integrity, about the truth of God's call to me not in spite of but in and through and because of who I love.

A little flicker of hope has been burning inside me, ever since I started writing my endorsement essay back in August, that my candidacy committee will not endorse me for ordination.  That they will postpone me instead.  Not a no, but a "not right now" -- a "there's a little more work to be done" -- a "take some time off and think about this."

Because I want time off.

This was really bothering me the past two weeks, this feeling of needing time off, needing to rest, needing to figure out what I really want, because I don't have time to do it.  I overloaded on classes to start the semester, and then there's church work and home life and friends and training for the 5k and being with Kristi and ... where in the midst of all that do I find time for discernment?

So, of course, the Holy Spirit busts in a wall.

(Not totally without a cry from me.  I did remember my favorite Anne Lamott prayer, during a particularly stressful day last week, which goes:  "Help me, help me, help me.")

I told my seminary mentor, Margaret (a former seminarian & a present social worker), that I was struggling, and thinking that secular work might be better for me because there wouldn't be so much work required before I could do the real work, and she said with her usual ironic smile:  "Wanna come to work with me?"  ... Well, no.  Not really.  And then she leaned in and said:  "You know, people are going to tell you the truth here, and not a lot of other places.  And when I come here, people treat me like a human being, and they don't at work."  ...

Well, okay, but --

And then I get an email from a new online friend who wants to talk about seminary, and my experience there, and how she too feels this calling to where her deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Okay, but --

And then I get three emails from, where I almost forgot I ranted two weeks ago about how I was tired of the church, and these lovely people who've never met me sent me Hallelujah and Chris Rice's Come to Jesus and Empire of the Sun's We Are the People, and one added a note:

"Randomly (for someone like me who is a decided atheist), I have several friends who are in seminary or recently out, mostly in mainstream Protestant denominations.  They are also struggling with these feelings... I say hang in there, read some Pema Chodron, and realize that the world needs as many peace-loving, caring spiritual people in it as possible.  If only to help inoculate the rest of us from the nutjob hateful organized religious people."

Okay, but --

And then for pre-preaching class, we were assigned to read Anne Lamott, who is the writer I go to when I need to curl up inside something and feel like my crazyness is not so crazy, or at least it's a normal, human crazy.

Fine, Holy Spirit.

You can come in now.

So I scrawled in my journal:

I am tired, but I am not FINISHED.

(Followed by my second favorite Anne Lamott prayer:  "Thank you, thank you, thank you.")

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