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Gratitude Friday...a breath of patience

Earlier this week, I met with my Discernment Committee for the first time...as I wrote here a few weeks ago, I've been so impatient to get this process underway!! Has felt like forever since I wrote my letter back in February requesting a committee be set up, but finally we have taken our first step and held our first meeting. (The other committee members had an initial training session, which baffles me, since it appears to have been pretty much exactly the same content as the first meeting with me...why we didn't just all meet and review the process together the first time is beyond me. Process for process sake...urgh!)

(There is more detail around the content of these meetings in the UCC booklet "Discerning a Call to the Order of Ministry", if anyone is interested.) By the way, in case you're wondering what this process is even about, the booklet says this: "One way of describing discernment is “a faithful inquiry into understanding what God is doing and what we are to do in response to God.”2 This inquiry is an intentional process of reflection that takes place over a period of time."

Even though I myself feel God's call so strongly in my heart that I have reached the point where I cannot not answer, I can't just call up the UCC and say "hey, God's calling me to ministry, when do I start?". UCC (or any other denomination, for that matter) obviously needs to ensure prospects truly are called to ministry, and have the gifts for such a vocation, before accepting them.

The meetings are intended to be a time of mutual sharing, and "an opportunity for all to learn and grow in faith while keeping in mind that the focus is on the inquirer and his or her discernment." These are the areas covered:
Initial Training Session: for the other Committee members prior to meeting with the Inquirer
Meeting 1: Getting Started
Meeting 2: Faith and Spirituality
Meeting 3: Ministry and Call
Meeting 4: Leadership and Lifestyle
Meeting 5: Identifying the Future Path
Meeting 6: Concluding the Process

Alas...meeting 1 was a bit of a disappointment for me. All we needed to do was review the process and timelines, set some parameters around confidentiality, appropriate/inappropriate questions, discuss the role of the Inquirer and involvement of spouse, family, significant others, etc. Pretty basic stuff really, in my mind. But...between time wasted on preparing coffee, tea, refreshments (good grief, we met for two little hours, was food really necessary?), and all the off topic chatting, we didn't even manage to cover those basic housekeeping items. So there are a couple points "parked" until meeting 2. I have a growing feeling this process will drag on considerably longer than six meetings...I also fear one or two of my committee members have missed the part about "keeping in mind that the focus is on the inquirer [me] and his or her discernment" and are viewing this as an opportunity to explore their own personal growth and spirituality. Ok, to be fair, some opportunity does exist since "it is expected all will learn and grow in faith", but not in the sense of there being equal focus on everyone's journey. This committee was setup specifically in response to my request, and its purpose is to discern with me if I am called to ordered ministry or not.

And, unfortunately, it looks like our next meeting won't happen until October 5th...almost eight months since I requested a discernment committee be set up, and four months after our initial meeting. I knew the wheels of the church moved slowly, but wasn't expecting this kind of delay!! I am sincerely grateful to those who have agreed to be part of my committee, but the process itself has been straining my patience to the max. Not that it takes much to strain my patience around anything that excites me! At such times, my heart becomes a noisy place with my inner child jumping up and down, shouting things like: "Is it time?? Are we there yet?? When is it MY turn???!!!"

Ah but I came across a quotation this morning that shushed my inner child, and quieted my heart to feel God's calming presence wrap around me...as I contemplated the words, through me blew a reassuring sense that all will unfold as it should in due time...

So, on this marvellous sunny Friday in June, I am deeply grateful for a welcome breath of patience and for the wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke:

"...to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
(from Letters to a Young Poet, chapter 4)


As always, each Friday I invite you to click over to Diana Strinati Baur's blog and check out the other Gratitude Friday Club blogs...

Comments (10)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Anne, Your comments about shushing your inner child is funny.

What a special time for you to feel such a wonderful calling in your life. And it's so interesting to learn the steps involved in the process. I'm looking forward to following along on your blog.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Anne:

Thanks Kathy, I am really glad to be sharing this journey with my blog friends. I do need to keep reminding myself to be open to wherever the Spirit leads through the discernment process...but my heart sings a song of ministry.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend as well :)

Great quote. I also struggle with patience when I want something to happen. Hope your next meeting accomplishes a lot more than the last one did.

Anne:

Thanks girasoli, I live in hope! And will think of it this way: the next meeting can hardly accomplish less, so is sure to be an improvement of some sort! ;o)

Rilke is perfect for patience and quieting your inner child. Hold on to your dream. It will be here soon.

Anne:

Marta, thanks for your lovely words of encouragement. I pray for patience every day! I know I'll get through this process eventually, and actually look forward to the discussions and explorations around my faith and where my gifts lie, etc...I'm sure before I know it, I will be moving on in my journey and studying for my Masters.

Anne, I am glad that you have finally had the first meeting but I can totally understand that you are feeling a little impatient! October seems very far away, especially since so little was finished in the first meeting... It is just because of people's schedules? Or does Canada have summer holiday for four months? :)

Anne:

LOL Chiocciola - I wish we had such a long summer holiday!! Nah, is just a scheduling thing...naturally my discernment process isn't as important to the committee members as it is to me, so hard to find dates that all will commit to. Which I understand on one level, but on another I wonder why agree to be on a committee if you won't make yourself available for the committee to do its work in a timely manner??

Oh well...I will just have to do a lot of praying for patience, and trust that the Spirit will somehow move us through this process in good time...all in good time, will be my new mantra!

Chiocciola:

Yeah, yeah, patience, patience... :) I agree, they should have thought about the commitment before they committed! But of course you are right, it will happen when it happens and then it will be great. I just recognize myself in those feelings of impatience - definitely an area where I haven't changed since I was a kid!

Anne:

Nor have I, to be honest...my version of being patient is really more an act of ignoring my impatience as best I can! And trying to turn my restlessness in another direction...sometimes I am even successful at this! :)

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