1.30.2008

What's Out There?

When I first started blogging, I was also just beginning the ordination process. I was looking for a way to process my experiences, and maybe find some common ground with people. I wanted to know that I wasn't (totally) nuts, and that the Episcopal church and the process can be a bit ridiculous.

Today, I realized that what I need now isn't confirmation of the craziness, but affirmation that there are places where it works. My parish, in many ways, doesn't work. That's the nature of a human institution, I know. But some places do work better than others, yes? So it's time to learn about the places that work better. Poking through blogs, visiting parish websites, really talking to more people, maybe people outside of my diocese. I'm ready to find out what makes them work, and strive for those skills and qualities. Isn't it a beautiful, simple, obvious thing to do? That's why it's taken so long to occur to me.

In some ways, this will be a private search. But I can do what my heart is telling me is healthy. At times I've wondered if I need to leave the Episcopal church. Today, I'm wondering if I can get to know all of it a little better first.

7 comments:

  1. Honestly, hearing "very possessive of His Way of Doing Things" is a huge clue as to why things might not work in healthy ways in that place. Possessiveness in ministry .. well, I just don't think that's healthy for that person, and that dysfunction is then diffused through the congregation, staff, etc.

    But yes, there are healthy places. For all my grumping from time to time, I believe that my diocese and process is fundamentally healthy and makes the right choices (even when I don't like them, I have always come to see them as the best choice possible).

    There are also healthy parishes, ones where God's work is at the center instead of what we want. I know some of them -- they're not perfect, by any means, but they are healthy and have a realistic sense of themselves. I also think healthy parishes can laugh as a community about their life together. Playfulness, mutuality, authenticity.

    There are healthy and good things about TEC -- and unhealthy and not-so-good things about other places. The grass always looks greener until you get there and look closely :)

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  2. Mrs. M, I am so glad to read you write this!

    I have been meaning to write to you and tell you that there are good parishes and dioceses out there, and it would have been my suggestion to go and search for them. Fortunately, you came to this conclusion on your own :)

    My husband is active duty Navy and we move a lot. It's frequently painful to leave a parish and the ties that I've created over 2 or 3 years of Sundays and days in between. The positive side of that is that I've seen what works and I know how to get there. It's frustrating that as a lay person, I can't always get there in a new parish, but I hold in my heart the possibilities.

    It seems to me that TEC could learn from the more flexible of its members. We seem better able to hold onto our tradition and swim up new streams than the less flexible, who hold onto tradition and can't move for the weight of the candelabra.

    I am encouraged by the new formation of the Church Center. I hope that it encourages those of us in less-than-ideal circumstances to use its resources. I also hope that it encourages a less straight-up-and-down approach to postulancy. It's my belief that TEC will have to change the Process in response to our a)lack of money b) lack of time in one place (although not lack of time in TEC) c) lack of enough money to pay for full-time priests.

    **months and months ago I wrote here that I was working through similar issues to your own in response to the Process. I haven't gotten very far in writing it down, but I think about it, and your journey, often. Keep writing, it keeps me thinking!

    grace and peace,
    Charlotte

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  3. Jennifer,

    That this (often wonderful) rector isn't healthy is something I've known for a long time. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other people in the diocese, and in the COM, who I can say the same thing about. I think our political/heirarchical structure does lend itself easily to some really dysfunctional/ungodly decisions. But thanks for the reminder that there are places that work!

    And Charlotte, thanks for the encouragement! My mom was active-duty Marine, so I know about all those moves! The military really is a totally different culture. I'll be happy to reciprocate those prayers.

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  4. I too was so happy to hear this from you. This is such an intensely personal process, this call. It's sad that it gets so hard when people's, er...humanness shall we say, obfuscates it! But it delights me that you are looking for the "big picture." This on-line community has been so helpful for me in that when I get bogged down in the particulars of whatever "stuff" my own church or diocese is up to at the moment. I know we have our warts,but I still believe that TEC has a unique and valuable voice and vision (if we could just get a little better at articulating it!) that the world needs....and we need young and wonderful women like you as priests in this church to make that happen. Prayers in the process as always.

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  5. This sounds so right, Mrs M, and is downright inspirational. I KNOW there are thriving vibrant parishes and diocese out there. Blessings on your search.

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  6. I'm glad you are doing this search. and looking forward to hearing what you discover. Your thoughts and concerns aren't limited to your own denomination, you know.

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  7. Yeah for you! I'm in a healthy church in an UNHEALTHY diocese as you know. YOU GO GIRL! Excited to know you are seeking and open minded.

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"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins