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There are parts of my job that are exhausting and frustrating and that occasionally drive me crazy. And I love my job. Sometimes in the exact same moment. It can be hard to explain to people who exhausting/frustrating/crazy moments exist. It’s true. I think, sometimes because of what people say, sometimes because of what is in their eyes, that they get a better impression of me than they probably should. I experience the exhausting and the frustrating and the crazy-making. And then I tell myself I can’t quit and remind myself about why I love my job. And then I pray. That one always works.

I use my hands and my voice
to hold wine and bread and tell a story
but the story isn’t mine, and shortly,
neither is the wine or bread
I use my voice, it’s tone and strength,
my ability and view, to breathe life
through words I wrote, and speak
a Gospel new again, old as it may be
and not despite, but because of all the me present
it is not about me at all, but God,
Who wrote and spoke and breathed into me
This is what ministry is.

At the end of the day,
when I am tired and weary,
with all the little holes worn through myself
from the miles of listening,
I sit down and speak back the stories I have heard
to the One who listened with me
and remember that I was not alone
and neither are those who spoke.
As I work my way back through the worries I carry
it is as though I work thorns out and
let Divine hands soothe,
and carry the thorns away.
This is what ministry is.

It is knowing that the work I do
is never done alone
is never done for me
is never about me
is always important
but best of all
it is knowing that the work I do
matters to me
matters to people
matters to God.
This is what ministry is.

written 4-16-10

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It no longer feels odd to me, my morning ritual of putting on a shirt and clerical collar.  I am now just as likely to forget that this catches others off guard and it can take me a minute to correctly interpret their peering eyes.  “Is that…?  Does that mean..?  Wait…She’s a priest?”

And other times I cannot forget that I wear the Church’s uniform.

When I sit with a family grieving with them their loss and reminding them, with my presence, in the Church’s uniform, that they are not alone.  That I, the Church, and God are all with them.  That no one has been forgotten.

When I talk with those whose voice has gotten lost, who feel overlooked, and fear they are unimportant.  When I apologize and they tell me I had nothing to do with the slight.  And I say, “But someone from the Church needs to say I’m sorry.  So, I’m sorry.”

I worked hard to be able to put this funny thing on.  And at all times it is an honor and a privilege.  In some moments I feel the collar ringing my neck.  Not a burden, but a reminder.  Reminding me that I wear this uniform.  That, at my best and at my worst, I represent the Church, at its best and worst, and God, who loves all of us at our best and our worst.

I once heard a Bishop say that he (this Bishop was a guy) had a friend who had told him that he had been ordained for the salvation of his soul.  I did not understand that comment then.  I still could not explain it.  But I now know why someone would say that.

I am ordained because I feel called to the work of a priest.  I am ordained because I was willing and able to persevere through The Process.  But most of all I am ordained because this is who I am.  I am a priest.   While I could live a happy life outside of Holy Orders, I would not be living my life to the best of my ability.

I began to better understand this deeply ephemeral truth while I was visiting some newly married friends of mine.  I have known both parts of this couple for years and years.  I have known them separately and together.  And I knew that they deeply loved each other and would flourish together.  But even still, even knowing all of that, having seen them together for years, they were somehow more together and more individually complete now that they were married.

I looked at them and I saw this truth and thought, “That’s how I feel about ordination.”    And then I spent several weeks trying to find the words.  I think these are the words:

I am secure and strengthened in the knowledge that the truth of who I know myself to be is recognized, affirmed, and declared by my community at large.

Yesterday, Pentecost, I was ordained as a priest in The Episcopal Church.  The entire weekend became a family and friend filled lead up to a wonderful service.  And it was wonderful.  It was the end of seven years of work in The Process.  It is the beginning of a journey.  And it was not my own.

This journey is not my own
They ask about me
They ask about my interests
They ask about my education
They ask about my health
They ask about my grades
They ask about my jobs
They ask about my family
And they listen to my replies
Because they care
Because they’ve been there
When I was little and precocious
When I was older and obnoxious
When there was tragedy in my family
When I was taking the earliest steps on this path
When I left for college and again for seminary
When I came back for ordination
And today, a day of culmination and beginning,
Their voices join together in pledging
The support they have already shown
Because I am theirs
A fact which bothers me not at all,
For they are mine
Our journeys are not our own
We belong to each other

written 5-13-09

The sort of day it is a privilege to have been present for.

the air was alive
with joyful voices;
the streamers rippled
with fiery reds and golds;
the people prayed
with joy and love;
as one, for one, to one.
And the air was alive with…
And the streamers rippled with…
And the people prayed with…
the Holy Spirit

written 1-27-09

This poem was easy to write and is nearly impossible to lead into. I think it’s because, the poem, the day, none of it was about me. So there is little I can say here. It was beautiful and I am delighted I was there.

We laughed,
in air made, however briefly,
thick and sweet.
Solemn words were spoken;
truth given voice and voices.
My friend with her friends knelt,
change indelible to be solemnized,
and then rose, different
and all the same.
And there,
in celebration of the journey,
in a moment stretched thin,
with the joy of the Spirit,
there we laughed.

written February 2008

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