I never got to become a doctor.
And now, it looks like I won't become a priest, either. For now, at least. For reasons I understand, TEC is going with others on a seminary path. Some have advised me that I should change churches, or even move to a different diocese in order to "get in", but that for me is never at all part of a personal ambition.
Unlike the Catholic Church, TEC has a significant number of people looking to move into the clergy - and that's a great thing. We cannot all be chiefs, though - and I really really feel for those who have to quietly inform those not selected that they've decided to take on other people. You're not hiring one person over another for a job at Kinko's - you're in essence rejecting a deep-seated call, one that someone has taken to in many cases despite their best intentions to avoid.
A significant part of my conversion and call was about losing a lot of things: anger, hatred, spite, personal ambition, prejudice, and so forth. The Dalai Lama said if you go around talking, you only ever repeat what you already know, but if you listen, you gain knowledge you didn't have before - and it's been very very illuminating to do just that.
There's something very nerve-wracking about presenting your beliefs to others, even to fellow Christians: I can testify to the fact that the bitterest "animus" many Christians get are from fellow Christians, who in a nastily passive-aggressive fashion do a "love the sinner, hate the sin" trip against them, reminding them that "iron sharpens iron" and that their heretical worldview is something they should know better not to follow.
But I've had a lot of support from people here, and it's humbling. Whether it's upvotes and cools on things I've written, private notes of thanks or clarifications, or even heartfelt responses, personal and private - whether rebuttals or agreements with what I've said. Most touchingly, some have reached out to me as someone to talk to. And that means more than anything.
I dipped out for a bit because of incidents and responses that led me to believe that that relationship was broken, and things were about to get horribly political, and horribly personal - with people reading things into certain statements and deciding what I was saying. That's a very, very real fear of mine, and it's well founded.
I was wrong, and I'm glad I'm wrong.
I'll stay out of conversation in the chatterbox situation, but allow instead whatever I write here to speak for me. And of course, I'm always open to reading messages from folks, whether it's words of thanks, words of constructive criticism, heck, even the gift of abuse. The fact that what I write has merit for people here, has spurred others to chime in with their own beliefs or lack thereof, or even expose their vulnerability - is a huge, huge gift I thank you all corporately for.
If you think about it - in a way, blogging, tweeting, what have you - has taken up some of the space that we've traditionally used for prayer, and I'll even argue it has become a prayer. I don't see much difference between going onto your knees in a closet and talking about your life's ups and downs, and hoping and wishing for good will and happiness for others, and doing the same thing, anonymously - into the ether by typing it on a keyboard. And likewise, online communities can become a church - when responses come back: "I hope this works out for you." "I've been there - you're not alone." Or even donations of money or time, or resources. I read online in one place where someone admitted he was stuck in rural Texas because his transmission died, with no hope no money or no way to get to a job he was going to change his life around with.
Two questions were asked: "Where are you?" and "What kind of car?" Within two hours someone said "I have a transmission that will work, stay right there" and within another two hours, a marvellous relay race started, in which one member drove out to meet the original owner, and the transmission went from truck, to van, to another truck, to the back of a car, and to another truck again, and so forth - and within a day and a journey of literally hundreds of miles spanning four states - that transmission was being installed by three men who skipped church to do a good deed instead, replacing the unit with hand tools and jacks in the parking lot of a shopping mall, the food court of which had fed a few people who had showed up to participate in fellowship and charity by keeping the man fed, and in a hotel room.
Jesus once said "wherever there are two or three of you, I am there also". The people involved were atheist, secular, hostile to religion, but they were most certainly an arm of what we call the body of Christ one way or another.
I've read stories here. People have met, fallen in love, gotten married, sired children as a result of meeting here. Charity has been performed. People have been uplifted when they were down. People have died and been mourned. Confessions of the trials of life and announcements of triumph have been noted here: mostly anonymously.
I'm just glad you have me here as well, in the highways, and in the hedges, making the occasional tent speech, and being an ear to anyone who wishes to talk. Thank you all.