Monday, July 11, 2005

From Where I'm Calling

I really haven't been able to blog much since I got back from General Assembly. Not for lack of anything to say, either. Warts and all, General Assembly was a UU community larger than the community I live in. The workshops I attended were all larger than my congregation. I'm not sure I can convey exactly what that feels like. As a seminarian, I'm not exactly unconnected from a sense of a larger UU community. So it is a little embarassing to be as corny about it as I am.

Attending the Service of the Living Tradition, and seeing people I knew onstage, it really hit me how close to graduation I have come. I need to see the WRSCC and start applying for CPE and internships. I'm struggling internally with the transition from scholar of religion to minister in training. I've been asked to officiate at a renewal of vows this fall, and friends ask me to offer prayers when I eat at their table. Sometimes people at church pull me aside to talk about their lives. I worry about accountability as people project the role onto me, and I worry about failing, or hurting people accidentally.

I remember the drive home after my week of orientation at Starr King School for the Ministry two years ago. It was late at night, and traffic was stopped by an accident. A car had crossed the median and rolled over down an embankment, blocking the road and trapping two people in the car. As best I could tell, they both had their seatbelts on and they made it. I remember wondering if I should go to them and try to comfort them while the paramedics were on the way or if that would be letting the whole seminarian thing go to my head. The timing was such that the rescue started before I got close enough to judge the situation, but I still like to tease myself about the thoughts that went through my head. In retrospect, I think I was trying to negoatiate between a natural desire to help (and a sense of calling at that) with a newfound concern for boundaries.

I find myself struggling to fight any tendencies towards arrogance while dealing with the need to be and appear confident. I also struggle with the balance between being open to new thinking while needing to be clear about my own theological beliefs. I find that my beliefs are not really changing, but that I keep learning new language to express aspects of them. I am really indebted to Tillich for helping me have a new understanding of and relationship to christianity. I'm also really grateful to Rebecca Parker for sharing insights about process theology and atonement.

I've been following some of the arguments about anonymous blogging. I have to wonder if my words here might come back to haunt me. Either being too strident in my politics or too vulnerable in talking about my doubts.

There are still houses that cost less than my seminary education. I'm sure I could have done a great job of developing spiritually if I had spent my money on a cabin in the woods. Instead, my cabin on Walden Pond is in my head, and no one can take it away from me. Deep down inside, I know that I have made the right decision.

I believe that we are all connected. And I believe it is my calling to restore the sense of connection, purpose and meaning in our lives, however we articulate it.

More soon...


At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anna Belle said...

GA "was a UU community larger than the community I live in." This was my experience too -- and I've been struggling to put it in words, and so I am most grateful for your post. It was by no means my first GA, and I've been puzzling over how or why it felt "larger." A major thread for me was actually the connections possible with blogging.

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Jim. It was great to see you at GA. Thank you for your reflection here.

Ann Schranz

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And of course now I remember you go by James.



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