Saturday, August 13, 2005

faith story, part VII--was blind but now. . .

Education for Ministry (EFM) should hire me as their poster child.

Because it was an EFM course that I believe truly changed my faith life forever.

The little congregation I was attending, and which was turning out to be a real lifesaver as I was truly struggling emotionally and personally through graduate school, suddenly, in my 3rd year of my master's program, decided to merge with a program size congregation eight blocks away. In the midst of everything else, it seemed overwhelming to me that this place that felt like home was being taken away.

When the rector told us one Thursday that it was our last Thursday evening Eucharist in our old space (we were moving to the new congregation on Palm Sunday), I had to leave the service and go outside and cry. When I got the times mixed up for the service of deconsecration, I sat in my car in the parking lot (my first car, the car the rector had helped me buy)and cried some more.

But the merger was the best thing that could have happened. Five of us decided to start a youth group. And one of the gaggle (flock? what is the word for a large group of deacons?) of deacons at the new congregation ran an EFM course, which I had been interested in for a long time.

I'm still not entirely sure what happened, but sometime after I started taking EFM, I was in church one Sunday morning, vested as a subdeacon, sitting next to the rector in the "Little Bear's Chair," as we called it, and listening to the lector read some passage or other from Ezekiel. And very quietly, I became aware that something had changed. I got it. I suddenly understood what was going on in the passage at a new level, how it made sense to me. And I also had the sense of a filter being lifted off of my eyes, that I could see things more vividly, colors more strongly.

It took me years to recognize that as a significant turning point. I didn't run around at the time and tell people I had just had a conversion experience or "I was blind but now I see." But it came just at the right time, because I couldn't keep the juggling act going any longer in my life. Some part of me knew that what I was pursuing professionally wasn't good for me, wasn't truly me. People were bugging me all the time to join the ordination discernment group we had going at the church (there was a gaggle of seminarians and seminary hopefuls as well). Our youth group leadership had changed but I found that I had the commitment to keep going and that I was loving leading a community. My rector had complimented me on my ability to lead Evening Prayer and being a subdeacon was great fun (once I got over an initial anxiety attack of standing behind the altar in front of everybody). Everybody saw it but me.


Post a Comment

<< Home