Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wilderness Fatigue

So I went to the ECC (Evangelical Catholic Community) congregation where I've been hanging out the last few weeks, and my former seminary classmate the Sarcastic Lutheran gave a truly excellent homily linking themes from the book of Ruth and the story of Mary Magdalene. The Sarcastic Lutheran is an intimidating bit of creation indeed. I have yet to discover anything whatsoever that she cannot do. And on top of that she is one of the most authentic people I've encountered, very clear about who she is and is not and very open.

Anyhow as I sat in the pews I was struck with a wave of grief; I want that, I want to preach again, to share the elements of communion, to bring the message of a loving if sometimes profoundly annoying God (read the Psalms of Lament if you doubt that last) to a community. All of that I gave up. And why? In the sad times it is hard for me to remember that the theological differences that lie behind my decision are genuine and deep, and that the denomination I left is best served by my leaving, as am I. I find in myself a certain desire to be super-flexible-pastor, no theological position too challenging for me to embrace, no behavior too challenging for me to affirm as good. And yet that is not who I am. My former denomination, which brings a particular and profoundly needed message to a community desperate to hear it, moves in theological directions where I just, simply, cannot follow. Thus, the wilderness, thus the deep grief, the continued collision with the limits of who I am; and thus the oh-too-human desire to wish those limits away, rather than to engage them as part of God's calling to me. How prideful of me to think that I can, or should, have no limits to whom and how I serve. Is there any other human who is without limits? Hardly. Surely, I think, there must be people whose limits are more compatible with mine, to whom I can bring something needed.

Unfortunately, at present, the wilderness, while no doubt containing exciting and life-giving possibilities, also contains tangled vines, old branches that trip one up while walking, and bugs. Perhaps even snakes. And almost certainly porcupines.


Blogger MadPriest said...

She's really crap at root canal dental surgery. Never ask her to look inside your mouth. I can't think of anything else, though.

4:46 AM  
Blogger Sarcastic Lutheran said...

Those bland, measly, tedious little bits of manna are just not enough... even though they really are.
The wilderness can really blow.

You're loved,
oh, and I'm hopeless at spelling, driving places without getting lost and the ability to not burn microwave popcorn.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Bluebird said...

As someone who has had more than her share of denominational struggles, my heart goes out to you. Also you have my prayers, and lots of cyber-hugs.

After many years of suicidal aimlessness, I finally found a place in life with a wonderful husband and kids. I don't know why God bothered; I can't do anything really well. If a hopeless case like me can find a place, you'll be a slam dunk. Don't forget you're loved and don't ever give up.

12:56 PM  
Blogger terri c said...

MP, thanks ever so for the warning. SL, thanks... and bluebird too. Husband and kids a highly unlikely route for me for a number of reasons but I do take comfort that God is present in this wilderness, albeit in one of God's annoying disguises which I have not yet figured out.

2:02 PM  

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