Monday, July 13, 2009
Pushes and Pulls
Longtime readers of this blog will recall that perhaps the biggest factor in my decision to withdraw from ordination to the diaconate -- aside from lack of time, changing requirements, and several lively episodes of church trauma -- was my unease with some of the promises people have to make when they're ordained, specifically the vow to "obey your bishop and other ministers who may have authority over you and your work." (My, that was a long sentence. Sorry.) I like my current bishop a lot, but bishops are as varied a bunch as anyone else, and I didn't want to take a binding oath to obey anyone who might wind up that office in the future.
That particular ordination promise was very specifically what I had in mind when I wrote all the stuff about oaths as "blank checks" in yesterday's homily. (What if some future bishop asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter?) But a few minutes after I delivered yesterday's homily, our current -- and desperate to retire -- deacon announced that the parish will be starting a new calling process for deacons, and I felt an undeniable pang: sorrow, yearning, envy of whomever will get to be ordained.
I wrestled with this mish-mash for most of the rest of the service. Again: I can't in good conscience take that oath. I also don't want to have to take the eight-hours-a-day-for-four-days General Ordination Exam or memorize liturgical trivia, and the most important aspects of the diaconate -- bringing the church into the world and reminding the church what the world needs -- are things I think I'm already doing just fine.
Then why was I still feeling the pang?
After the service, I talked to one of our priests, who said brightly, "You might be called again!"
And I said, "But nothing's changed. The requirements keep getting tougher, and that oath's not going away."
"Probably not," she agreed.
I may just still be in the process of grieving what didn't happen, along with all the things that did. I'm sure my sadness over Dad is bringing up all kinds of other sadnesses, the stuff I didn't have time to think about while he lived here. But the issue doesn't feel put to rest, and that annoys and troubles me. Can I please be done with this, already? Or get a clearer sense of what I'm supposed to do?
Aaaargh. Yeah, I know. In God's time (the kind where a thousand years count as a day).
On a brighter note, after church Gary and I went to Trader Joe's, and I stopped in at the bead store next door to get beads for my KangaTek zipper pulls. I'd brought four silver charms I'm especially fond of from home, and I bought four gorgeous turquoise beads to go with them, and the lady in the store assembled them into zipper pulls for me. These pics are blurry, but will give you the general idea.
I bought the fish charm during one of my summer courses in Berkeley; I'm fond of it because, even though it doesn't look like a bumper-sticker Jesus fish, it still works as a religious symbol for me. And anything acquired in Berkeley brings back happy memories.
My mother gave me this charm, which is smooth and heavy and vaguely acorn-like. I like it just because it feels good, and because it came from Mom. One advantage of these zipper pulls is that they also function as worry beads.
I bought the Celtic-cross charm in Mississippi when Dad lived there, so it always reminds me of happy times with him. I also like the cross shape, although in Reno, it tends to be mistaken as a Basque symbol. I get tired of telling people that no, I'm not Basque -- I used to wear this cross to the hospital, and had to have that conversation constantly -- but I still like the charm.
I love turtles, which are my totem animals in many ways, especially since I've always been very physically slow. (Have I told you the story of my brief ski-racing career when I was seven or eight? Terrified, I inched down a hill by planting my skis in the widest snowplow in the history of skiing -- when I wasn't falling down and getting back up, that is -- while sympathetic adults at the bottom of the hill cheered me on. I came in dead last, about an hour after the penultimate finisher. The judges gave me a consolation prize, a Canadian maple-leaf pin, which I still have somewhere. Yeah, it's a lot like the aquacise story. No coincidence!) Sea turtles are of course very fast, but I like them too. Anyway, this turtle was half of a pair of earrings I bought in Reno. The other one got lost.
So that was yesterday. Experiencing spiritual confusion and existential angst? Distract yourself with bright shiny things! Yay!
Today I start teaching my summer Tolkien course. Yay!
Tomorrow would have been Dad's eighty-seventh birthday. I know I've mentioned that before, but it's weighing on me, and on other members of the family. Please keep us in your thoughts.