Monday, August 21, 2006

Somewhere Near the 49th Parallel North

As we were packing up all our things, I began to collect all the certificates and documents I’ve collected during my time in California. I have a diploma saying I completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, another calling me a Master of Divinity, one saying that I was ordained a deacon, another calling me a Master of Arts, then one saying that I was ordained a priest, and finally one saying that I completed a full year-long residency of Clinical Pastoral Education.

This brought the past five years into some focus. Not only can I dress my walls with all sorts of fancy looking papers, but I leave California looking different myself. I can wear a hood at the evening office, wear a clerical collar, for a while I wore the deacon’s stole, now I wear my stole straight. I wear a chasuble. I can even look confident in a hospital, like I might even know what I’m doing there.

The internals are a lot less tangible. What does it mean to have served at an altar regularly for this long? To have preached that many sermons? What does it mean to have grown in knowledge of the Church and her people? To have gathered pastoral wisdom, confidence, and a few blunders? Have I grown in the faith, and in hope? In charity?

How has the West Coast changed me? This one is the most difficult to feel and see. The place I leave has its own way of being, its own subtle and explicit customs of language and behavior. Some of them are good, and I hope that I carry with me the optimism of California, the willingness to experiment, the ability to try all things new. Some customs I hope I don’t carry with me, like the subtle judgments, it’s coercive social programs, its ability to exclude for the sake of inclusion.

I hope it has all been for the best, I hope it has prepared me to serve. I hope certainly hope it’s been about more than the clothes, the calligraphy, and the parchment.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Marshall said...

I imagine, too, that you'll discover a lot of what your Bay Area soujourn has meant only in contrast. In some ways, too, you'll find some things don't change that much. I've lived in Detroit and worked with Canadians. My sons grew up in the East Bay. Both are a lot more cosmopolitan than the rest of the US that you didn't have much chance to experience. Both are in fact largely incomprehensible to most of the rest of the US. Many forget that Canada isn't simply part of the US, and that the Bay Area is.

I hate transitions myself; but the discovery can be exciting.

Friday, August 25, 2006 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous HowardRGiles+ said...

I think it means that you will have to change the name of your blogspot.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 3:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Belatedly, I want to wish you many blessings in your transition to this new phase of your life. May you find your time in California continues to enrich your life and ministry, although that time is now past.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 6:58:00 PM  

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