If there are millions down on their knees,A month ago, one of Renee/iphy's posts talked about being "in a season of waiting...in that space in-between the death and resurrection." I remember being moved to tears as I read her words, although (for better or worse) that's nothing new. (If I keep on reading Renee's stuff, I'm gonna have to purchase Puffs by the pallet-load!).
Among the many, can You still hear me?...
Hear me asking, "Where do I belong?"
Is there a vision that I can call my own?
Looking for a reason, roamin' through the night to find
My place in this world - my place in this world
Not a lot to lean on, I need Your light to help me find
My place in this world...
(Michael W. Smith, "Place In This World," from the
1990 CD Go West, Young Man
Like that old Roberta Flack tune, she was "singin' my life with [her] words." I really identified with this image: "my only prayer is that somehow there is a presence in my emptiness. that somehow there is a holiness in my moments of breathing, of cupped-open hands, in this long waiting i find myself living in." As I've found with all Renee's writing, the stuff this posting helped me dredge up was not comfortable...but was dead-on, nonetheless. (Thank you again, my sister - I think...)
It happened again tonight.
At an AA meeting on the north side of Chicago, God spoke through a man celebrating 30 years of sobriety, when he said, "Now that I'm retired, I am trying to figure out who I am outside of being just a-guy-with-a-career." As he said that, I had one of those "cosmic V-8 moments," and I finally came to understand at least a part of why I've been "stuck" where I am...
In leaving Kansas City, I not only left my job and my address, I left my identity (as a friend among friends, a committed member of powerful communities of faith and recovery, and as a worker among workers) in order to pursue seminary and ordained ministry. In effect, I swapped one identity for another.
Now that it's clear that I won't be able to do the ordained ministry path (at least not for a long while, anyway), the question is: so who is Steve, now, apart from the telecom/church/recovery guy, and apart from ordained ministry? So far, the terrifying answer (the answer I really would rather choke on my own vomit than admit) is this: "For the most part, I don't know."
I hate that.
There is, however, light among the clouds. I may be seeing dimly, but I am not entirely in the "can't-buy-a-clue" column. I know that I know and love Jesus, in a clear and powerful way... even when I struggle to pray, let alone meditate (especially about this topic). I know that by God's grace, I am a sober person in recovery - even when going through these changes, and these doubts, has made a drink sound like a real good idea at times. I know that no matter what denomination or setting I end up in, I will always be Lutheran enough to understand the balance of faith and works as my brother and pastor Joe Crowther put it: "What are you called to do, now that you don't have to do anything?"
And I also know that God has given me these gifts, and these bits of knowledge, for a reason. I'm a pretty darned good actor, but I really couldn't manage to fool all of you, for all this time. So there's got to be something about all this that is beyond just "what I feel." The testimony of the saints vastly over-trumps that one small group of church folk who told me that I have no gifts for ministry, just because I'm deeply in debt.
So what next?
For way too many years, my friend Eric Amundson has been telling me that he didn't see my path in congregational ministry - and that writing was going to be a part of whatever I ended up doing. I'm finally coming to agree with him - both from his own encouraging, that of a number of my friends both in Kansas City and at LSTC, and from the support of a number of new friends in the blogosphere (Rick, Drew, and others) - all of whom have continued to both open my mind and kick my nether-regions when I've needed it. I wanted you to know that I have heard you all.
I'm just grateful to God for each of you - for your prayers, for your encouragement and feedback...and for your putting up with my whining and questioning ad nauseum. (Well, all of you except for my brother Mike Moore - who keeps reminding me that the best place to find "sympathy" is between "sewage" and "syphillis" in the dictionary. Ditto for Eric's dad Jerry, who would second that notion...)
But, to be rigorously honest, I also hope I get some kind of clue about which way to go before I end up I completely broke. (Which ain't too far away, right now. I'm not there yet...but I can see it from here...) "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go..."