Archive - Jun 7, 2017

Open Ember Letter, Pentecost 2017: Keep the Sabbath Holy, Trust the Process, Trust the Camino, Rebuild My Church

Keep the Sabbath Holy, Trust the Process, Trust the Camino, Rebuild My Church

There is a practice in the Christian tradition of seekers writing quarterly letters to their superiors about what has gone on in their journeys over the past few months. Writing such Ember Letters seems like a valuable practice and I have adopted it for my own journey. However, the events of the past few months have left me uncertain about whom to address this letter, so this time, I am posting it as an open letter, online, to whomever is called to read it and walk alongside me during this part of my journey, whether it be as guide, superior, or fellow seeker.

During the past few months, the priest in my local parish accepted a calling at a parish far away. A bishop in my local diocese made it fairly clear that they did not see a space for me to live into what I believe God is calling me to, within the local diocese. SoI have been thinking much more about what it means to be a pilgrim, a peregrino.

I love my local parish and my local diocese. They feel like the starting point of my current Camino, but that perhaps it is time to move on, to approach them like a beloved albergues on the camino, perhaps as the St. Jean Pied De Port of my current camino; a starting point, not a destination.

For the time being, I continue to worship at my local parish. I continue to be involved with my local diocese, but the journey has begun in earnest. My local parish, my local diocese has become just one more albergue on my Camino.

There are various recommendations offered to seekers along the way, Keep the Sabbath Holy, Trust the Process, Trust the Camino, and Rebuild my church. Each is valuable, yet each has a danger of being taken too literally.

I have been seeking to Keep the Sabbath Holy. A Facebook friend of mine has recently been on a kick about the importance of celebrating the Sabbath on Saturday, and of specific things that need to be done. As I read this, I keep coming back to Jesus saying, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” I am seeking to live into enjoying the loving gift of the Sabbath. A chance to rest knowing that Love who made us, showed us some of that love by inviting us to rest in Love.

I am finding this helpful as I think about Trusting the Process. Many of my friends talk about this in terms of the process of the organized, established church for selecting and forming those that the church will allow to celebrate sacraments. Many of these same people talk about how deeply flawed that process is and of people that have been severely wounded by this process. I now count myself among those with such wounds, and I am struggling to find how to Trust the Process. It now seems like this wounding by the process is an important part of the Process that Love has for me. It is part of what is shaping the next stage of my Camino.

I have known, since the start of my current stage of my Camino, that there is no way that I could complete the Camino on my own. Love must prepare the way. Love must lead me. I had hoped that my local diocese might help me find my current path on my Camino, but now, as I tend the wounds from the process, words from The Cloud of Unknowing come to me, and it seems that I must put even my local diocese below the cloud of forgetting.

In many ways, the real starting point of this current phase of my Camino was the first Bi-Annual Poetry Conference at Yale Divinity School. I had a deep experience of Love speaking to me of how Love is calling me to show Love to those around me. It set me up for me the past two years of struggling with the process.

During this time, I have read and thought and lived more as a pilgrim, a peregrino. I have met fellow travelers along the way. Recently, there was the second Bi-Annual Poetry Conference. It was another wonderful experience, but one of the most important parts for me was not at the conference itself, but talking with a friend at the Divinity School who made a comment that perhaps is my most importance guidance for the next part of this stage.

She noted that part of how you know your calling is that it isn’t something that goes away when you are rejected. She said she did not believe I would be happy until I started divinity school and even though I may not yet know where my Camino is leading, I need to start divinity school as soon as possible, if only as an Ignatian discipline. It was one of those moments when I knew that I had heard some of the Truth that Love has for me.

So, I am embracing these words and have started looking at divinity schools. There are many complications in my Camino. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on it. I need to continue to support my family as I walk my Camino. I don’t even have my Bachelor’s degree. Love must prepare the way. Love must lead me.

Over the past few weeks, I have reached out to find a divinity school where I might study in the fall. One particular school seems especially promising, and I am in the process of putting together my application for their Fall Term. The deadline is July 1st. There are some courses there that I am really interested in, and God willing, I will start classes in the fall.

A local bishop suggested that I explore religious orders along the lines of contemporary Third Orders. They had suggested a Franciscan Order. I am quite draw to certain Franciscan practices. I am also quite draw to certain Benedictine practices and am exploring other ancient orthodox and catholic practices, perhaps from the Eastern Orthodox or from the Celtic Church. I am not yet sure where this will lead. It feels like something I need to keep exploring, but it is not yet time to pursue this, nor at all clear what aspects would make sense pursuing.

In all of this, I find an important possible future stage in my Camino. Joining with St. Francis to rebuild the church, not just San Damiano, or my current local parish or diocese. Perhaps there is something about helping rebuild the church, a post-establishment church. Yet I have much to do and learn before I can help much with that.

At the poetry conference, I picked up Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer. I am reading about a Baptist poet’s trip to prayer and Eastern Orthodoxy. I am finding it very meaningful. Perhaps it provides the best post script to this letter.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.