It’s been a long time since I came to Texas. I forgot what dry heat feels like. It prickles. I forgot about the trees here in Austin. They are lush and full of character and beautiful. I also forgot to pack the clergy collar buttons that attach my clergy collar to my blouse. Not good, given the importance of the work I’ll be doing tomorrow. A friend and former parishioner from All Saints is a seminarian here so at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, I sent him a desperate Facebook plea: Hunter, he’p me, he’p me! I need to find some clergy collar buttons for my meeting tomorrow. So he did. By asking the president of the seminary if I could borrow a pair of hers. Aaaaargh, I am soooo embarrassed. With all this traveling and having to wear clergy collars, I am going to keep an extra pair always packed somewhere in my suitcase. But that’s a small problem to have and, considering I was in tears a good part of the early morning, still sorting through this business of leave-taking, I am glad for new sights and sounds and problems.
This is a short trip. My fellow sojourner Ron and I are here to forge relationships and continue to explore what it means that the model of ministry in the Church that at least appeared to work for so long is buckling under in many places. Even 3 days ago, there was a fairly hypothetical feel to this new work of mine. The painful process of extricating myself from the ministries I have served in since my ordination exposed painfully that I kept too many of the plates spinning in the air by myself, that a clergy-centric model is seductively simple and theologically and practically impossible for the long haul.
The work I am doing now is becoming increasingly rewarding. The team I am a part of does not pretend to have all the answers and we are finding our way forward through a great deal of conversation and communal discernment. We know that folks getting ready to be ordained as clergy in the Episcopal Church need more basic skills and tools to help foster teams that are faithful, actually do the work of the kingdom, not just talk about it, and hold themselves to standards of excellence through mutual accountability. We are here to explore how we can collaborate with seminaries to engage ‘baby priests’ in this effort.
Elsewhere in this blog, I wrote about the fact that when I was a little girl, one of my favorite phrases was “Ya casi es mañana”–It’s almost tomorrow. Actually, tomorrow is already here for me.