As it turns out, the road to ordination had an unexpected twist in it for me. But I must have good traction in my tires, because I managed to negotiate the curve and stay on the road. After not one but two afternoons of interviews, the Missouri Board of Ordained Ministry has recommended me for ordination this June at the Annual Conference session! Hooray!
The twist in the road involved my receiving a call on Monday night, after I had spent the afternoon in Sedalia interviewing with the four committees. One of the committees, I was told, had a few more questions they wanted to ask me. The other three had enthusiastically recommended me, but one group had some reservations.
*gulp* (Heart stopped for a minute, stomach churned a bit, blood pressure dropped alarmingly)
They wanted to know if I could drive back to Sedalia (97.3 miles one way) at either 1:30 or 4:30 the next afternoon, Tuesday. To be back at 1:30, I would have to cancel my lunch with my YouthFriend (YouthFriends is a mentoring program in the NKC School district). To be back at 4:30, I would have to cancel my appointment with a woman who had let me know that her long struggle with her relationship with Jesus had led her to a place where she was ready to profess her faith and join the church. Either way, I hoped to be back to church by 7:00, when I had an appointment with a family (3 generations, no less) who wanted to join the church and have the kids baptized. This was the decision I had to make.
I decided on 4:30, told the caller I would take that time, and he offered me some encouraging words as we ended the call and said goodbye.
I was reading a bedtime story to my daughter when the call came in. Somehow I managed to get back to the story, the chapter from "Little House on the Prairie" when Pa puts the roof on. After we prayed and kissed goodnight, I left my daughter's room and went downstairs to wait for Erin to come home from her dance class. When she arrived, I told her and she embraced me and we cried and grumbled and hugged more and and shook our heads and cried more. I called some friends and my Dad, letting them know what was happening.
I didn't sleep well.
I am not going to share the details of Tuesday afternoon with the BOOM. Having had only a day for reflecting on everything, I just have too much unprocessed. And I probably won't post any particulars at all, because it would be tinged with so much of my emotion as to be quite unhelpful. What happened was that I went to the one committee who had further questions, I answered the questions they asked, they must have been pleased with my answers, and the full Board voted to approve my ordination. I was called last night by the same pastor who had called me the night before, but this time he had happier news to share!
The past two days, I have truly come to understand what it is to be loved unconditionally and supported fully, to be held in prayer and compassion by wonderful people. Erin, the light of my life, my true love, my rock, my life-partner forever. My kids, who just knew that Daddy finally had "passed the test" and were so excited they could hardly contain it. My dad, my mom, my siblings, who have put up with me longer than anyone and for some reason still find room in their hearts to love me. My covenant partners, who prayed with me, shouted curses at the wind with me, loved me for me. Colleagues on the BOOM, who gave me thumbs up signals, put their arms around me, prayed for me, affirmed and supported and encouraged me. Church staff and members who spoke uplifting, encouraging words of support, and who gave me assurance. Wow, I'm just about overwhelmed.
And here it is, Lent - penance, fasting, preparation, mortality, confession, repentance. My Lenten journey is going to be a little bit different this year, I suspect. I wonder what new thing God is going to do this year, as we yearn for resurrection. What new thing is God going to do, as creation groans with labor pains? I wonder what new thing God is going to do.
Check your tires for traction, there may be a twist in the road ahead.