Here is my latest editorial musings...
There is a scene from the end of the movie, Shawshank Redemption, where the corrupt and abusive prison warden realizes he has finally been caught in the act. The camera pans around his office and brings into focus a framed needle-point wall hanging that his wife had made that reads, “His Judgment cometh, and that right soon…”
I have had that scene in my mind for the last month or so. This is not because of some morbid fire and brimstone view of God that I harbor, but simply because the day that I thought would never come is finally upon me. As most of you know, my ordination to the priesthood is scheduled for May 1st, which is the Feast of the Ascension. As I have to write my Roar articles in advance, my ordination will likely have already happened by the time this edition of the Roar is printed, mailed, and read, but I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the meaning of discernment and the magnitude of this whole thing we call “The Ordination Process.”
We often joked in seminary that “The Process” would make a good reality show. I never felt like I was a person who could speak coherently about that because I believe I might be the only person in the Western Hemisphere who has never been able to sit through an entire episode of any reality show because they are, in my view, anything but reality. But I can see why my classmates in seminary joked about it as such because there can seem to be an odd resemblance to the goings-on in the Ordination Process to Reality Shows: People get voted off islands, there are potential pitfalls and obstacle courses, and dealing with various and sundry Church committees and commissions always had a curious resemblance to talent interviews on American Idol.
I say this all in some jest, of course, because I actually do feel “The Process” in this diocese is done pretty well. I can tell you some horror stories by seminary friends of mine about ordination processes gone wild in other dioceses that have lost sight of the fact that God is at play in discernment to whatever vocation to which one in being called. And by “vocation,” I do not simply mean a calling to something religious like the Priesthood, Diaconate, or a Religious Order. There are all sorts of important vocations to which God calls people. Maybe that call is to be a teacher or an artist or even to being a mechanic. God gives all manner of gifts and talents to all manner of people.
Discernment would be so easy if God only gave each of us one, and only one, talent. Therefore, discernment would be a fairly simple matter of logic to discern to what vocation each of us was called. However, as a former professor of mine was fond of saying, “It’s more complicated than that.” We serve a God of abundant grace, and as such God often gives many of us several talents, which makes discernment of vocation all the more difficult.
I think one of the true gifts of God to the Episcopal Church is the gift of community. Discernment is not just about the individual trying to find his own way alone nor is it about community dictating to us what we should do. When it works as it should, community feeds us and lifts us up when we are searching. And when we have a decision to make on what God wants us to do with our individual lives, the community is there to help us on our journey, often seeing things about ourselves that we do not see ourselves.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved with my journey, especially those here at St. Mark’s. Though you folks at St. Mark’s were with me on the last leg of my journey down the road to the ordination of the priesthood, you will always have my prayers and a special place in my heart as the first parish I served as a deacon and then as a priest. May this community continue as a blessing for many years to all those who are searching the wisdom that God has given to this community.