Friday, May 11, 2007

Notes from Colleague Forum

Monday, May 7, 2007

Well, I am sort of fasting from the internet…not easy when I have an eBay auction, something I’ve wanted for a while, ending tomorrow. Oh well. I guess we wouldn’t call them disciplines if they were easy, huh? And here I am, “blogging” into a Word doc so that later I can paste this into the blog.
The good news is twofold: first, having failed abjectly at being prepared yesterday, I have got the PowerPoint for Sunday almost ready. This makes me very happy, and means I don’t have it hanging over my head. Instead, I’ll be thinking about Sunday’s sermon, which will be more fun.
Second, I’m here at Avila at the Wellspring Colleague Forum. Something about being here just makes me happier…this is a peaceful place for me. And Michael Williams is here, and I’m getting the chance to talk to yet another of the people I really look up to, and to talk through with him some of the questions I’ve been asking here and elsewhere.
This is what I’ve figured out recently: accepting and celebrating a call to ministry doesn’t mean giving up our own volition…I’m remembering again that I’m an Arminian, and I have free will, and that God is always with me. Sometimes working out this calling business is up to me, not only as an act of submission to the will of God or of depending on God to tell me what to do. Sometimes I’m actually offered a choice in the middle of all this, an equally weighted “you can do this or this” kind of choice. I guess I’m shedding a little of my inner fundamentalist: somehow I think God should just write it on the wall, make my course both indelible and inescapable, which would remove any need I have to make a decision—I could just go with the flow.
But no, this God business keeps calling for more from me, and I mostly love the challenge. Right now the question at hand is about the future and what ambition I have for this life God’s given me, and that I’ve chosen. It’s not all going to simply fall into place. I get to make some choices, I get to express my preference, and that’s heady stuff to know that God trusts me to make some of these decisions. God trusts me to make choices…that’s what that free will stuff is about.
I need to sleep on this.

Yet another great day. So here’s what I think: at Duke I was working just a little on the concept of an ecumenical catechism. What I’m really interested in is catechesis, in a way, that makes our faith, ancient and modern, meaningful, coherent, a part of us, and transmissible—how we understand ourselves to be located in the narrative of God’s relationships with people, and how we share that story with others and teach them to make it their own.
So now I’m thinking seriously that it’s time to go back to my 5 year plan (only it’s more like 7) and look at places where I can do some writing (maybe even get published somewhere other than this blog). I’m also going to be talking to some of the other folks I admire, like Karen Westerfield-Tucker and Dr. Wainwright, who were influential at the beginning of this process, as well as some folks who have some contact that might help me as I go through this. I’m excited and a little nervous, but I do really believe that this is where God is calling me to go, and it is a part of what I always thought I wanted…now I just have to do some more work.
In other news, Ben got to touch a hawk today, which I know meant a great deal to him. And I got to see Ben climbing a hill, which he’d ordinarily avoid, to do it. One of the other pastors at this event was walking in the woods and found an injured juvenile Sandshill or Cooper’s hawk. Fortunately one of the other pastors here, a good friend, also does wildlife rehabilitation, and so he was able to go into the woods and recover the bird (giving Ben the chance to see it up close and to touch it). It’s spending tonight in a closet (read: safe, dark place) until we can get someone from Piedmont Wildlife Center to come collect it and care for it. It was dehydrated and very poorly muscled, and I hope it will survive the night and recover from its injury.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Well, the question of the day is where are the places in which I need to slow down enough to feel like I am at one with God and how do I do that? My answer is pretty simply, I don’t know.
I mean, I do. I go to the coffee shop with a book that’s not related, I stay up late and think and write and play, but I really don’t know how I do it in a way that really honors God and doesn’t just drown him out. I like the busyness and the chaos. I don’t like silence.
I have rethunk this question. It’s not about silence. It’s about being attuned to God so that we occupy the same space without effort. So my coffee shop time and walks with the dog and catharts and meetings with LaVera, Sally, and Eric count. Getting lost in a book may very well count. And the sacrificial mornings when I ignore the business I am about and spend and hour or two with Eric or Harriette or Peggy, with someone in the hospital or planning something new, those are sacramental too, in a way.
My immediate answer to the where are the places question is just a little bit before I get sick or hurt, but that’s not a fair answer. That is about busy-ness, and not about God or me. I admit I need to be more mindful of my own weariness, but that has little to do with feeling disconnected from God and more to do with being disconnected from myself. Perhaps it’s about being present to God? I’ll have to think more about this.

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