After more than a year in discernment, and two years at the School for Deacons (sfd.edu), I reached the next stage of my journey a few weeks ago: Candidate.
In the Diocese of San Joaquin a person who is Postulant can request consideration to become a Candidate for Ordination. Interviews are conducted by the Standing Committee of the Diocese and the Commission on Ministry. Your original application is reviewed, along with your progress in the course of studies you've been following.
I have noticed over time that some of my fellow pilgrims in this process become tense and anxious when facing these interviews. For me, though, I felt very relaxed. I have come to trust that I am being led on this path for some reason only known to God, and that wherever I ended up must be where God intended.
This idea of "Trust in God" allowed me to be free in the discussions I had with the different committees I met with. If they didn't like what I said, well my answer would be "Well, this is who I am, rough edges and all."
Was I still looking for the Exit Ramp? A selfish side of me still hoped to go back to an uncommitted faith, but the larger part of this "New" me would be disappointed. I've come to realize that for me there is no "going back"--I have been transformed too much to return to the once-a-week religious practice. My day-to-day life and my spiritual practice have become too intertwined to separate them by days any longer.
Despite the work I have done at School, or the answers I gave to interview questions, I still believe that I am only continuing on this journey because the Spirit is leading me there.
For inspiration and reflection I've been reading "The Celtic Way of Prayer" by Esther De Waal (see Recommended Books). It's a marvelous book touching on the holistic way of prayer in Celtic tradition that recognizes the Spirit of God intertwined in the environment around us. De Waal recounts a prayer titled "The Dear's Cry", that tradition claims is from St. Patrick, and which inspires me since being approved as a Candidate:
Be Christ this day my strong protector:
against poison and burning
against drowning and wounding,
through reward wide and plenty...
Christ beside me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me;
Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me;
Christ in my lying, my sitting, my rising;
Christ in heart of all who know me,
Christ on tongue of all who meet me,
Christ in eye of all who see me,
Christ in ear of all who hear me.
For to the Lord belongs salvation,
And to the Lord belongs salvation
And to Christ belongs salvation.
May your salvation, Lord, be with us always.
Faith is a journey, not a destination. If you stop looking for the path, you will never find your way. Never stop asking yourself "What is God calling me to do?" The answer may surprise you!
I start my third semester at the School for Deacons this coming Saturday. I still have no idea where I may be going, but I trust that God will lead me there.
May God's Peace and Love rest on all of you this day!
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