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Take it with a good heart, and don’t fear the pain

June 4, 2009

Wow.  I’ve been bogged down with an awful lot of busy work lately.  Having a two-point charge, CPE, a wife with a large family, three active children, and a partridge in a pear tree can keep a fella running.  There have been days lately where there are three places I’m supposed to be at the same time.

So I’m sitting at Annual Conference.  I wondered what it would be like to walk into the building given my newfound notoriety.  I was aware that with my recent posts I was bringing not peace but a sword – and that has been affirmed.  I know there are members of the BoOM who agree with what I have stated, and there are those who disagree with me strongly and may have even been offended by my assertions.  I was approached by one member of the board who told me that the Bishop is dedicated to looking critically at the ordination process in our Conference and making the relationship between the board and candidates less adversarial and more helpful.

Thanks be to God.

It is a different experience to walk into Annual Conference without the degree of anonymity I used to enjoy.  Oops. Fame (or infamy or notoriety or whatever) has its costs, I suppose.  But I’m glad I rocked the boat.  A healthier conversation has emerged regarding the troubles candidates have in navigating the obstacles on the course to ordination.  Hopefully we can put an end to the dissemination of inaccurate, outdated information and begin to recognize the gifts, graces, life situations and experiences of individual candidates.

I’ve been asked if CPE was a complete rehash of my own experiences.  To be honest, it was very much like a refresher course in counseling and pastoral care.  It never hurts Albert Pujols to take batting practice or to work with a hitting coach, so it couldn’t hurt me to do more on-the-spot crisis ministry.  It was helpful to me in that regard.  And I have no doubt that some clergy candidates benefit greatly from the experience of CPE and should be required to take it.  I used it as an opportunity to practice the ministry of non-anxoious presence, to hone my “in the moment” prayer verbiage, and to sieze teaching moments with the other residents.  And our groups gave me a safe space to complain and moan about my ordination woes.  The experience did affirm, however, that I was correct in my appeals to the board.  The experience was, to a large degree, redundant for me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I liked it.  I met tremendous people.  I enjoyed learning the ins and outs of the hospital.  Two residents were Seventh Day Adventists, and I enjoyed having the opportunity to learn more about their denomination and beliefs.

During the first week I found a quote from Thomas Merton that I held onto for the experience.  The quote came from Learning to Love as he reflected upon his personal turmoil regarding his affair late in his life.  That quote got me through CPE, and is getting me through being a bit notorious in the big room today.

“Hence, the only thing to do is to take all of it with a good heart and joy, and not fear the pain that must come with it.”

Amen, Brother Thomas, Amen.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2009 4:37 pm

    I’m not the kind of guy that gets nervous about speaking in front of people, but when I did in that big room, I was terrified. I think part of it was that being anonymous does provide a little bit of safety – especially until after ordination.

    As for your boat rocking, I’m glad you did too. I’m glad that we keep hearing that the Bishop is interested in discussing these issues. I’ll be even more glad when it appears those discussions are actually taking place.

  2. July 14, 2009 7:22 pm

    Hiya Will….just stopped by. Hadn’t been here in a long time and was just wondering how you were doing and what you have been up to. I see that you are a busy man but life is being good to you. Fantastic! Keep on blogging, friend. Ya never know when your writing might encourage someone (like me, for instance).

    Thanks for the great posts!

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