The Unimaginable Discernment #Hamilton

The yellow and red leaves of autumn are turning brown and falling. I am exhausted. Four years ago, today, my mother died in a car accident during Hurricane Sandy. It was in the final days of my first campaign for State Representative.

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name

Today, I’m running for State Representative again. It is a low key campaign this time. I reluctantly accepted a minor party nomination, with the agreement that I would not have to do much other than allow my name to be on the ballot. This would give voters a choice, the minor party a chance to keep their name on the ballot, and me a few chances to talk about what is happening in the public sphere.

I was reluctant to run because I knew that even with a full-fledged campaign, which is a lot of work, my chances of getting elected were minimal. I am running against the house minority leader.

I was also reluctant because there was something much bigger going on in my life. I was seeking ordination as an Episcopal priest. Yesterday, I hit a major roadblock.

The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down
The Hamiltons move uptown
And learn to live with the unimaginable

My quest for ordination has seemed unlikely from the very beginning. I went off to college forty years ago, intending to study religion and become a minister. Money had always been tight in our family, and it was even tighter since my parents were going through a divorce. A high school classmate I had been fond of was brutally murdered during my freshman year and being off in college in a different state, I did not get the opportunity to mourn with my classmates. I had few friends, little support, and my dreams slowly fell apart. I became a philosophy major, dropped out of school and moved to New York City to write poetry. I supported myself writing computer programs, got married, had kids, and forgot my dreams.

In my brokenness and timidity I gave up my shot.

I worked hard, made a good salary, was involved in church, but slowly ennui crept in. My wife left me. I fell apart.

I remarried and my new wife gave birth to our daughter, my third and youngest. We struggled financially, lost our house in foreclosure, went bankrupt and moved to a small rented house near where my wife grew up.

I spend hours in the garden
I walk alone to the store
And it’s quiet uptown

It’s been quiet in Woodbridge. Slowly, I’ve gotten involved in town politics, made friends, and became involved in church again.

I take the children to church on Sunday
A sign of the cross at the door
And I pray

Slowly, I started writing poetry again. I joined a poetry group and share my poems with them and online. I went to a conference on poetry in the church and had deeply religious experience. I felt, more powerfully than anything else in my religious life so far, that God was calling me to ministry, to the ordained priesthood in the Episcopal Church, and I began my journey of discernment.

From the beginning it has seemed unlikely, unimaginable. How could a fifty seven year old college drop-out impoverished son of a Scotsman become a priest in the Episcopal Church? We are doing okay now, living pay check to paycheck with little savings, but the only way it could happen would be if God clears the way.

He is working through the unimaginable
His hair has gone grey. He passes every day
They say he walks the length of the city

Can you imagine?

Yesterday, I hit a major roadblock. It appears as if the way has not yet been made clear, and I must find a different path or destination. It has been a rough day. I’ve slept. I’ve written. I’ve walked. I’ve been to the dump. I’ve paused to remember my mother and still I don’t understand.

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is a grace too powerful to name
We push away what we can never understand
We push away the unimaginable

Election Day is coming up. Afterwards will be the Annual Convention of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. Advent will come and then Christmas and Epiphany. I will wait. I will listen for God in hopes of getting a new sense of what I am called to. I will confess my sins and seek God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Forgiveness. Can you imagine?
If you see him in the street, walking by her
Side, talking by her side, have pity
They are going through the unimaginable

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