(This is really long, and rather wandering, but I needed to write it, and post it- so my apologies in advance)
I’m jumping back again, back to the fall of 2006. This would be post suicide-by-truck-into-bridge-averted-by-some-other-powers-hands-on-mine-that-saved-my-pretty-useless-carcass-for-some-reason (at the time) unknown-to-me timing. This would be post drop-the-kid-off-for-his-first-year-at-the-university timing. Post (or during?) the find-out-about-things-in-our-relationship-that-are-not-so-good-to-find-out-about timing. Anyone following that? No? Me either, but that’s okay.
The important parts, of the whole time period then, are varied- it’s sufficient for some of it, to simply note that a whole lot of garbage has been worked through, sorted, thrown away and is gone. A lot of ripping out of the deadwood, to leave behind what is real, and true, and valuable, in my relationship with Lynn. Of course, there is the minor detail that I’m still alive and around to care about this stuff, which along with our caring about one another again, is an ongoing process, as well as an ongoing commitment.
But something very very interesting happened, in the midst of all of the yuk. There was a time, a moment when my heart was breaking, when I honestly couldn’t have given odds that I would ever be whole enough to care about anything. But, once again, I was feeling those warm hands, that so soft voice- and because of that, I did something I hadn’t done in years.
I left my house, and went to church. Not on Sunday, not for a service, but just because I needed to be there.
I went to the church we’d found back in 1999, when we moved to this teeny village. The white clapboard little country church, where we’d found a spiritual home. Granted, I’d spent intervening years actively avoiding it, granted that during that time I couldn’t have, (or rather, wouldn’t have) acknowledged that God existed, much less cared- that didn’t matter. I knew, in the same way that I’d felt those warm hands on mine two months before, that I needed to get my ass to church.
I prayed there, sincerely, and for the first time in a long long time, I prayed the one prayer that I believe God likes to hear more than any other. Pretty much, I said, “Show me what YOUR will is here, show me where I need to be going, because I don’t know; I need you to show me what path YOU want me on. If that means I lose my marriage, my life, my place in this world, so be it.” YOU know- the whole, “Not my will, but Thy will be done” praying.
And, much to the chagrin of the part of me that had been running from it, for so long, so thoroughly, He did what will always be done, if we can but listen, if we can only see. He told me. He showed me. He made it very very plain to me, that despite all of my best efforts, He was there and waiting, patiently, for me to wake up. He made it plain, that my first job now, was to get my house in order. Then, he wanted to talk to me some more. (Know how it was, when your dad or mom would say “I want to talk to you?” Yeah, that’s the tone, right there).
At that point, there was still a lot of work to be done, of course. A ton of work, a lot of tears, and anger and frustration and ready to quit. A lot of learning, and relearning, and all the work of restoring trust, and rediscovering one another, and relearning about one another. (No, I’m not talking ’bout marriage here, although that was true, too- no, I meant between myself and God).
That growth is ongoing, of course, and will be forever. I started by making the simple changes I needed to, in order to make the opportunities for communication to happen. I started getting to church, and becoming more actively involved there. I began to make time to pray, and study, and think, again. I spent time reflecting on things that I’d heard, and known-but-denied, and acknowledging that sometimes, other people might know us better than we know ourselves.
And so, eventually, I took an opportunity to explore some things at the Seminary in New York; I jumped into some things at church that I’d never done before, and they were amazing. I started teaching the high school classes, as I’d done years before. I started working with various groups, and these days, I’ve found myself on the vestry- whodda thunk THAT, five years ago?
I’ve struggled, and still do- and probably will, forever, with wanting things that aren’t good for me, aren’t what God wants for me; and, no doubt, I will succumb to those temptations, and beat myself up for it, for not being stronger, or better, or whatever.
But, I’ve learned something that I can cling too, that I grasp, that I hold dear to my heart, and that I thank God for each and every day, each and every time I pray. I’ve learned that I am much happier, much more complete, much more than I used to be- if I remember to pray “Thy will”.
There is a whole range of things I can think of, and point to, and reflect on, that let me know that I am finally heading where I’m supposed to be, that at least I’m at the beginning of the right road for me to take. I’m not going to try to catalog them all, I’ll spare you that.
But, one of the steps that I took last week, is a huge one. A letter was sent to a carefully, prayerfully chosen group of eight people of our parish. This letter is the biggest thing I’ve ever tackled, and the most important thing of all, in so many ways- so, I’m placing it here, as well as in my heart and the hearts of the ones that received it in the mail.
From: Father ***
Date: Ash Wednesday – 2009
Re: Discernment Committee – David ***
Dear Friends –
I write to ask your help in serving on a discernment committee for David ***. David has a strong sense of calling to serve in ordained ministry in the church, and has over the past two years begun the work of testing that calling by taking some classes at General Seminary and by substantially increasing his involvement in various church ministries here at Christ Church. The time has come to assemble a parish level discernment committee on his behalf.
The work of a discernment committee varies with the candidate they seek to serve, but always involves hearing the story of the candidate’s life and sense of calling, and helping the candidate reflect on their experiences of both church ministry and ministry in the wider world. Discernment committee work is typically prayerful, deep and nourishing for all involved. This committee will meet to assist and support David until he either moves beyond the parish level in the “process” of formation for priestly ordination, or until he is clear his vocational calling lies in another arena.
If you agree to serve on this committee, you can expect to meet about once every six weeks, usually on a Sunday afternoon. Past discernment committees have typically shared a simple lunch together after church, meeting for about an hour and a half. We will convene for our first meeting of the group at some time early in the Easter season.
You are receiving this invitation for very specific reasons. I trust you will honestly and prayerfully consider serving with this group. Your presence would be a blessing to us all, and David in particular.
I will call soon to answer any questions and see if you’ll be joining us. Thanks in advance for your kind consideration.
Faithfully Yours –
Obviously, I don’t know for sure where this will lead. I think I do, and so do many others- but the point is to help discern that. But that’s okay, right? Cuz I get to say, “THY will…”