Updated: Aug 11, 2020
It has officially been three weeks since I walked away from the last thing holding me to my previous denomination. In that time, I have started a new position, completely unrelated to my desire to one day be a priest. For the first time in my adult life, the way I make my income has nothing to do with the church, and I have to admit it is difficult to process. My education, my connections, my closest friends, every mentor I have ever had, and numerous other things of importance are intrinsically connected to my sought-after vocation. I have spent 10 years of my life pursuing ordained ministry, and here I sit staring at a computer screen trying to capture the loss of identity I so deeply mourn. I guess Jesus was on to something when he told crowds of lowly peasants that those who mourn would be comforted. But comfort is not always what I want it to be, for better or for worse.
Two weeks ago, my husband and I became members of the Episcopal parish we have been attending. We are still awaiting confirmation, but we both show up a little broken and a little lost in the midst of a tradition we still do not know.
There is comfort in rhythms, predictability, and rituals. I have experienced this grace time and time again, in the steady pattern of the worship service. It was the one thing I could count on every week. I knew when to stand and when to sing. I knew when to pray and when to listen. I knew which pews were designated for which people and the names of the people who occupied them. I knew, and my knowledge comforted me.
I cannot say that is the comfort I have come to know over the past several months of our transition for one expression of Christian faith to another. I now walk into a sanctuary filed with kind faces I do not know. I find a seat and pray I can remember when to sing and when to kneel. I heavily rely on my sweet, sweet husband to navigate the Book of Common Prayer, as I have no idea how to attend to the mysteries contained within. I make the wrong gestures. I forget which direction I am supposed to begin with when making the sign of the cross. All around, I am a hot mess. I am clearly the one thing not like the others when surrounded by people who have lived into this rhythm their entire lives.
Yet there is still comfort I could not imagine as I stumble through a dance I still do not know. I am as awkward as a toddler taking her first steps. I am as clumsy and unrefined as watching children dance and leap with joy. I am as clueless as anyone who braves learning a new language. Yet, somehow, my mourning is met with grace. I confess my sin and I am absolved. I drop the prayer book and sing the wrong words to hymns I thought I knew, but for the first time in a very long time, I feel in awe of the good work God is doing in the walls of that holy place and inside of me.
I am learning a lot about faith, God, and myself in the process of this transition. I am learning the false comfort of knowing is far less valuable than I have believed it to be. In that lesson, I believe there is freedom to dance the rhythms of worshiping a God who delights in my lacking and guides me in my stumbling. For this, I am thankful.