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July 30th, 2004


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03:16 pm - And a secret is revealed :)
If you haven't already, go tell me what you think "the Secret" was. Then: Read more!

Last night I sat down with Tina over dinner, partially to discuss some things that have been bubbling up inside for a while.

See, the thing is, I've had a desire to study for clergy for years. I'd say, probably, since at least 2000, probably since as early as 1998. It's grown and it's built ever since then, and there's a kind of pressure to it.

It doesn't help matters that I keep getting the following statements:

1) "You'd make a great priest."
2) "You're a good listener and I like to talk to you about my problems"
3) "You have a good voice for ritual, and you carry yourself well."
4) "You're a very religious person, aren't you?"

Now, none of those statements bother me. They don't cause crises. They don't make me worry.

Thing is, though, I'm not sure that I have the requisite vocation. No "calling", if you will. It's something I want to do, but is it something I'm destined to do?

So I want to try it. I want to experience it. I want to find out if it works for me. I want to see if that calling is there.

Nothing wrong with that. It's easy to do in ADF. There's a process to go through in which you can take on what's called "Dedicant Clergy", which is kindasorta like "clergy with training-wheels". You have permission to do the "marrying and burying" and all that jazz, but you don't actually have the same level of responsibility and work involved with regular ordained clergy.

Sounds great right? Well, there was one problem: Tina.

See, it's not so much a problem. It's more of a point of discussion that we've briefly flirted with in the past. It's something like this:

M: "I think one day I'd like to be clergy."
T: "I don't date clergy."
M: "Why not?"
T: "Because they're hypocrites (or celibate or child-molesters or manipulators)."

That's usually the end of the discussion.

So before I made any decisions, I started out talking to my Gods. I knew for a fact that I'd have to talk to Tina about it eventually, but I didn't want to do it right away. First, I went to Eris.

Eris informed me that I'm the problem, really. She's wont to do that. But really, she tested my resolve to even bother with it, and forced me to see the actual issue: what I want.

Esus was a different matter. Rather than focusing on what was outside, he changed my focus. Really, it's him who's been pushing me forward: starting a Grove, finishing my DP, working on the GSP, and my enthusiasm toward the Clergy Training can all be traced to him. We discussed his expectations, and how I live up to them. He helped me decide that really, a kid should not always stand in his father's shadow, but needs to grow independently, and make his own choices. He revealed the road I've taken, and reminded me what I've passed up. He showed me what he would do in my place: follow his heart.

Next, I talked a bit to one of ADF's clergy about the process. We went back and forth over email, me just kind of feeling out the process, seeing what was involved. It seemed pretty simple. In the end, this may have affected my decision most, as I ended up with a new-found respect for the traditions of ADF, as young as they are. I'm not technically eligible for Dedicant Clergy status for one more year, but I can apply for an exemption.

The question now had a new dimension: do I want to try to push this through and request an exception to the rule, or do I want to play by the rules and work with them? How do the virtues fit into this? If I'm going to act with integrity, should I be looking at ways to circumvent the rules? If I want to act with hospitality, should I ignore the rules set down? If I wish to act with wisdom, should I rush in just because I believe that ADF would grant the credentials? Finally, if I truly wish to be pious, should I even consider clergy credentials in order to "test the waters"?

Finally, over dinner, I talked to Tina. I told her that I was thinking of the Clergy program. I told her that I wanted to try it out. This led to a discussion of where we were in our relationship. It wasn't as hard as I had thought it might be.

We talked about how we saw the relationship. We're best friends, she said. I have a tendency to let things engulf me. I sometimes don't pay enough attention to her. She sees clergy as an all or nothing gig. If I go the clergy route, she feels that she will lose ground in the entire relationship. If she loses ground, she will leave.

So we talked about how deep I wanted to get into this. I said I wasn't sure. She says she wants warning so she can cut her losses and support me as a friend, not as a girlfriend. She doesn't want to be second in my world, she wants to be first.

I don't begrudge her any of that. I love her, after all, and I don't want to do things rashly that will throw her out of my life. A relationship is about compromise, not about getting your way. It's about talking things out. I have time. I can still do the work I need. I want to do the work, but I won't request a Dedicant Priest ordination yet. I will wait, out of respect for my girlfriend, ADF, and (most of all) myself.

See this topic revisited next August. :)
Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic
Current Music: "Everybody's On the Run", -JB

(35 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


From:moonversion
Date:July 30th, 2004 12:24 pm (UTC)
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I am very proud of you and even more honoured to call you a friend. :)
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From:gypsydove
Date:July 30th, 2004 12:33 pm (UTC)
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very very well thoughtout. I must admire your courage to even bring this up....with yourself, your mate and your god/dess....

You seem to have a plan, and it seems to be on even ground...

May you see it through to completion....which ever is your choice.

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From:rfunk
Date:July 30th, 2004 12:59 pm (UTC)

Thanks for sharing

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Looks like you've both come to a greater understanding of your situation, but haven't really made an actual decision yet. Which I can respect (you know me).

It does sound like you made the right short-term decisions.

I'm not sure I understand all that would be involved in you being clergy though.
From:bloodlikerain
Date:July 30th, 2004 01:14 pm (UTC)

as johny depp said

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but where is all the booze?

I'm just teasing you, seriously, I think Tina is lucky to have you, and that you make decision (especially important ones) well.
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From:tosk
Date:July 30th, 2004 01:44 pm (UTC)
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But, you're already a Pope of Eris K. Discordia, why go down a notch or two? (Does Tina know you're a Pope?)
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From:chronarchy
Date:July 30th, 2004 01:46 pm (UTC)
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I believe so. But then, so is she, after all. . .
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From:tosk
Date:July 30th, 2004 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Ah, but does she know that?

;-)
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From:smithing_chick
Date:July 30th, 2004 02:26 pm (UTC)
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OK, I'll be the source of dissent here.

This is sending up major warning flags. Big, scarlet red ones.

Yeah, I think it's great that you're talking about it and all but the fact that she's told you no on previous occasions -for reasons that are based entirely on steriotypes & misconceptions having no relation to what you'd actually be doing- & her answer here seems to be, "Well, I might consider it but only under these specific terms..."

That's not a compromise. That's her getting what she wants.

This means a great deal to you. Your God is leading you to this path. Anyone who knows you knows how important your religion is to you. Giving up things that are that important for someone you love sounds romantic. And there's that pervasive notion that nothing matters but the one you love & love conquers all. It's bullshit. Either part of you withers & dies until you're just another bug in amber or you end up frustrated & angry, wondering just why exactly you gave up so easily.

You're already *on* the clergy path- you know this. By allowing yourself & her to think that you could just drop it if she said so, do you really think you're being honest?

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From:chronarchy
Date:July 30th, 2004 03:01 pm (UTC)
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Actually, I had the thing figured out probably before I talked to her. She was the last piece in the puzzle that had to be put into place, though. It's entirely possible that yes, to some extent, what I guessed her answer would be factored into waiting, but it wasn't something that was as big a factor as the questions as they related to the virtues. After talking with one of ADF's clergypersons, I had a much better idea of what I was doing and what I should be thinking about.

Now, as for Esus leading me down the path, he's not. He's put it in front of me, and I have a choice in the matter. We're not talking dog collars and leashes here. I can go wherever I want.

When it came right down to it, we had a long, rather in-depth talk about what clergy means in ADF. I'm trying to help her understand. Keep in mind that her ideas of clergy may be stereotypes, but they are not misconceptions. Different people have different experiences with clergy, after all.

It seems like you think that Tina wants me walking away from ADF completely. But does she really want that? No. Would I do that? No. She just wants me not to forget her as I do the things I love to do.

However, her happiness is very important to me.

And she's taken a beating when it comes down to it, as far as my time goes. I spend at least two days a week doing other things directly related to Paganism (and completely away from her). I spend about an hour per day locked in spiritual things. I take whole weekends and run off to places that she isn't interested in following. She's given up a lot in the past 7 years, and things keep chipping away at that. Eventually, she will either need to draw a line in the sand or risk feeling like she's lost me. Her compromise is: "I've given up this much. Now it's your turn." I have given nothing up in this area of our relationship before, and I have benefitted while she has suffered.

Did she say any of that to me? Nope. That's how I see it. It's time for her to get something.

I'm not on a clergy path. I'm on a path that is, in general, a very self-serving path. I want to be able to do ritual for me. I want to be able to read runes for me. I want to go to festivals for me. Clergy don't do things for themselves; they do things for their community, and that's a whole new commitment. What I do, I do for me, and I am not ashamed to admit that. If I become clergy, I need to re-examine what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. It isn't a skill-set or a tool box. It's a way of life. It is the "way of life" bit that Tina really objects to. If I cannot change her mind about the idea of clergy as an "all or nothing" thing, then this relationship may not work. But I'm not ready to give up this relationship yet on the mere whim that I might, down the road, wish to be clergy.

The calling, the vocation, is unclear in my heart. Before I commit to that path and reject Tina, I must find clarity on that issue.

Finally, my only regrets from the past don't involve missed opportunities to do things. They involve chances to have a good, strong, fulfilling relationship with someone. Every one of them.
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From:smithing_chick
Date:July 30th, 2004 09:22 pm (UTC)
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I didn't think that she was expecting you to leave ADF. I maintain that making blanket statements like "Clergy are celibate" is a pretty extreme misconception since most clergy aren't even expected to be celibate at all.

But I would argue that you're already on the clergy path whether you admit or even realize it or not. Just because you aren't on the official treadmill yet doesn't mean that you aren't already doing the work. You founded a grove, dude. That's a Clergy thing to do. You write liturgy, you answer the questions of the confused & you're extremely involved in ADF on many, many levels. You've talked about going to Chicago to get a Masters/Doctorate of Divinity. That's a *serious* clergy thing to do. You've got your God saying, "Here's the path." What more do you need exactly?

I think that Tina isn't a part of your spiritual life is as much a sacrifice for you as it is for her- particularly as it's been *her* choice, not yours. It's not like you joined the Masons where she wouldn't be allowed to participate. From what you've said, she's never even seen you lead a ritual- that baffles me. I wouldn't expect anyone I was serious about to spend endless hours in the studio watching me work but they damn well better show up at my gallery openings. It's a support thing. In her position, I'd at least want to see what all the fuss was about since it's so obviously important to you.

My final point will by on your final point. You're 24. You;ve been with this woman for what 6? 7? years now? Since your freshman year of college if I understand correctly? Exactly how many chances for good strong relationships have you missed? And were they before or after the one you're in now?



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From:chronarchy
Date:July 30th, 2004 03:01 pm (UTC)
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btw, didn't respond to your IM because I was typing the above. Not pissed :) Promise.
From:tanrinia
Date:July 30th, 2004 03:20 pm (UTC)
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i must admit, i'm in the middle here.

for one, i admire the both of you for being honest with each other and for holding off until you see what happens.

on the other hand, i've had dinner with a man whom i told i was really getting into this wiccan thing...at first he thought it a phase. then it was just that annoying thing i did that we never talked about. the friends i made he wouldn't talk to or engage with. the events, even the secular ones but with pagan folk that he would refuse to attend. it wasn't the only problem, but even though i did put him first (or so i thought, maybe i didn't?) there was still this Thing there. which i put up with for way longer than i should have (see post in my LJ about the web site).

i must admit, that many aspects of your relationship remind me of that, but i hesitated to comment because maybe it's not like that. and it seems from your conversation that you related there's far more positive than there was in mine.

i think one thing to think about as you are waiting for your eligibility is what if you have to make that choice?
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From:chronarchy
Date:August 1st, 2004 09:46 am (UTC)
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i think one thing to think about as you are waiting for your eligibility is what if you have to make that choice?

I'm already thinking about it, but, honestly, there's no way for me to "lose" Tina in this transaction. No matter what, she'll support me. Just perhaps not as my girlfriend, but as my friend.

My relationship with Tina, so far as I can tell, doesn't have any issues that are negative. After all, the top priority in a relationship is honest communication, and we have that. Neither one of us is really afraid of what's going to happen if we say things.

What concerns me more is whether the calling is there. If it is, then I'm likely to follow that. If it isn't, then I won't. It's pretty simple, actually.
From:ceolnamara
Date:July 31st, 2004 08:47 am (UTC)
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Whatever you end up deciding --- Be happy.

The details are none of my business, but as a friend your happiness is something I concern myself with.

So, be happy.
From:fred_smith
Date:July 31st, 2004 04:57 pm (UTC)
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If anyone I know is clergy material, its you.

Still, you are right to take your time. It sounds to me like you're treating this maturely. Go you!

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