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leaving and coming home


Last night I took part in the service of matriculation at EDS. I have to admit that, as much as I was looking forward to hearing Barbara Harris preach and Bonnie Anderson recognized with an honorary doctorate, and let's face it -- to get a blessing from Steven Charleston is to be BLESSED and know it (among other things, he means it, and he says what he means in extraordinarily vivid terms). But as much as I enjoy EDS liturgy, I didn't really get what the Big Deal was with matriculation until, like Madge's clients in the old Palmolive ads, I was soaking in it. I mean, finishing something -- especially something that usually takes three years to do -- is something to celebrate. But starting something?

I clearly wasn't thinking much, or well. For starters, we've got a lot of liturgies and other rituals to mark beginnings, and they can be very important indeed -- Baptism and the blessing of a union come immediately to mind, for starters. Gathering community to ask God's blessing and support one another on the path is particularly important when one is taking on a new commitment, intentionally entering into renewed or deeper discipleship, seeking to follow Jesus in a particular context. And something I'm really loving about EDS is that it's a community that's intentionally ABOUT something. Sometimes I find a diffusely articulated set of values -- "discipleship," "leadership," "deepening faith" -- doesn't do much. Those words mean a great deal, including a great deal that's specific, to me, but sometimes they mean such different things to different people that a community gathered around them can't provide much in the way of accountability. EDS is about discipleship, leadership, deepening faith, seeking God's kingdom; and as a number of experiences like matriculation has made clear to me since my move to Cambridge, seeking God at EDS means making specific, public commitments -- for example, working against racism and other forms of oppression, not just in superficial, papering-over-cracks and changing a few words to a few other words, but in potentially life- and world-changing ways -- to which the community strives to hold one another accountable gently, but insistently. This is a different kind of community than what I've experienced before, and because of both that and my being in a different place now in terms of my own formation than I'd been when I experienced formation in other seminaries and communities, I have to say that I'm already learning, experiencing, and claiming things that I can tell already are tremendously important for my ministry.

All that's to say that I am really, really loving it here. I feel I'm growing a great deal personally and as a minister of God's Good News, and doing that while also being around libraries and community support that will allow me to file my Ph.D. dissertation is something very much worth celebrating -- and of course, making and renewing the kind of commitments we did last night is something with which we certainly need God's blessing and help as well as support and accountability from the community. In short, matriculation turned out to be quite a big deal for me. The necessary paperwork is en route; I've now well and truly left my former home in the Diocese of Maryland, and have no further affiliation there beyond our sharing in the one Body of Christ. When the time comes, I'm free to go where God calls me next, and to whatever ministry. But I'm at home where I am -- perhaps more deeply and immediately at home than I've ever found myself feeling before, and very happy about it.

September 26, 2006 in Life and Whatnot, Personal News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

clearly I needed this book

Yesterday, I finally got around to reading the first chapter of a book that I'd been meaning to read for at least a year. The book came highly recommended to me, and I could tell from the title that it could be helpful for my dissertation, but there was always a squeakier wheel, and despite the best of intentions I left it month after month on the bedside table without picking it up. The book's title?

Overcoming Procrastination.

(The current edition has a different title, but it's the same book I'm now reading.)

September 6, 2006 in Books, Life and Whatnot | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack