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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Renovation and discernment

I've continued the work on our bathroom that began the other day. All the collected mildew is gone, and the necessary patching and repairs have been done. I finished the priming, and put a coat of paint up in the skylight area. When that dries I'll take the extension ladder out of the bathroom (it takes up so much floor space, which is not a plentiful commodity in a bathroom anyway!) and work on the rest of the ceiling and the walls.

One of the good things about this sort of work is that it requires focus, but is at the same time not all-absorbing. While my body is busy climbing up and down a ladder, and my hands are occupied with paintbrush and damp rag, my mind has time to meander.

It's had some fodder for meandering lately. My current ministry gig-- as part-time assistant at St. A's-- is lovely, but it will be coming to an end next spring. And quite honestly, that's okay. I love the work there, and the people. . . yes, even the difficult ones. (Oh, there are a few, as in any congregation. Do you suppose there's some sort of cosmic ecclesial quota system, that ensures a certain percentage of "challenging personalities" in each faith community?). But I am also aware that this is not my parish, not in the long run.

That being true, I've begun in earnest the process of Searching For A Call. Spiritual things, like prayer ("Okay, God. All this was your idea, so you tell me. Where to?") as well as more temporal activities: polishing up a resume, updating a profile with our national Church Deployment Office, contacting a few helpful people for likely places to consider, who might consider me. . .

Now, I do have some basic criteria to begin with. For example, I've learned over the years that I am not a city person. All the traffic, and the bustle, and the veneer of sophistication... well and good for many of you, I'm sure; but it is not the life for which I am suited. The idea of living in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, or other such places. . . it's draining even to contemplate. In short, the role of "city mouse" is not one to be played by me.

But having a sense of the ways and places I am not called, while helpful, is not the same thing as knowing where I am.

Yes, I know-- I need to be patient, and let God work, in God's own time. And honestly, while this is not my best skill, I've learned to be grateful for the gift of discernment time. But I will admit that I also feel a little like the starry-eyed teenager who wonders, "how will I know when it's the real thing?"

So, all you RevGals (and Guys): those of you who have been through the search process for a parish. . . Do you have any words of wisdom to impart, as I begin this step of the journey?


Blogger Songbird said...

Keep an open mind and heart. Listen to advice but don't swallow it whole. Be yourself and trust the movement of the Holy Spirit.
(Note to self: take this advice.)

November 18, 2005 11:57 AM  

Anonymous Tripp said...

Don't let the speed, or lack thereof, of search committees disuade you from a call.

November 18, 2005 12:04 PM  

Blogger David said...

I have a lot of opinions and probably poor advice re:search processes. Here's a little-
The folks I talked to appreciated the type of resume I sent. As you, I was a 2nd career priest. So I put a few bullets on my pre-seminary work experience (not to great detail). I then added pre-seminary CHURCH experience (all the unpaid stuff you did before discernment send you off to Seabury). I added a small section on what I did in Seminary. Then as Curate at a church when I was doing all this, I included a section to tell all that I had been involved in since arriving there.
Secondly, trust the Spirit. Go to the place during the week if at all possible. If you are brought in for interviews, insist on time in the church, by yourself. Pray in there, vision yourself at the altar and pulpit. If it doesn't excite you, you are probably not the right person.
Lastly, don't settle. This is not a competition, it's about the right fit for you and the congregation. It's hard to do and the process fails about 1/2 the time! PRAY and PRAY and PRAY.
I will also.

November 19, 2005 3:10 PM  

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