February 4th, 2009

surya

1,500: Reviewing my vocational statement

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Not so long ago, I started thinking back on the work I've done as ADF Clergy, and began re-exploring the vocation I have for it.

I started down this path in college: old journals turn up statements like, "If I were Catholic, I'd be in seminary right now." I know now, looking back on it, that I was feeling a call to lead services and help others for a very long time, even before I'd graduated high school.

I remember when the Universal Life Church put their ordinations online and opened up access to the entire world. I also remember making the conscious decision not to obtain ordination in that way. I didn't make that choice because I felt it was an invalid method of becoming clergy, or because I thought it was beneath me; rather, I felt it was not the right path for me to take.

What was important to me was not ordination. It was not the powers conferred by the state or by other priests. It turned out that I didn't see ordination or priesthood in that way.

What I wanted was recognition of status achieved by the body of my chosen spiritual community.

I remember feeling shocked and somewhat embarrassed that the ADF Unity Rite I was consecrated in was so much about me. Every invocation and evocation mentioned me, with the Kindreds being addressed and asked to support me and give me strength during their invitation. I didn't know what that meant at the time, but I do now. It wasn't about the various Priests recognizing me, but about the fact that I'd done things within ADF to the point that the recognition was just right. It just came naturally to them. I don't believe any instruction for those invocations was ever given to those who participated in the rite: they just did it.

That thought, by the way, humbles me even more deeply, and makes me even more embarrassed in retrospect.

It has been, now, nearly three years since I took my oath that day, and dedicated my head, my heart, and my hands to this journey that we call ADF.

The other day, I went back to my Clergy Vocational Statement, and re-read it for the first time in over two years. I wanted to see what was still relevant, and get at why I chose to go this route in the first place. I know that I still struggle with being clergy. I know that Priesthood in ADF is still something that I sometimes question. I know that I still feel like a rookie apprentice among learned old wizards. But much about what I thought was calling me has changed.

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A lot of what I thought would be the focus of my clergy work simply isn't the focus. The things I love to do, including the training program development, the ritual, and the simple joy of being a part of this experiment that is "Our Own Druidry," are still vibrant. But my expectations have changed so much. My own struggles with relating the GSP work to Clergy training were complicated enough: I felt untrained and underdeveloped when I started, but I have realized that I will always feel like that (and, should I stop feeling like that, I'll know I have a problem!).

The thing is, I'm a very different person than I was before my Consecration. It changed me, and time has changed me further. Despite that, some people will not see me as changed, but as the kid I was when they knew me before that ritual. Some will not see me as the kid I was before, but only who I am now.

And some, those closest to me, I think, will know the change deeply, and will understand it better than I do myself. And with the changes I have undergone, they will find that it is not me that changed, but it is my true self that emerged and began to develop itself. I know this because I am more at home with myself than I was three years ago, struggling through a hard breakup and really experiencing what it was like to be scared and alone for the first time; more at home with myself than I was ten years ago, struggling to find meaning in college coursework without a clear goal in sight; and more at home than I was fifteen years ago, stumbling onto Paganism in Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico and praying for the first time to divinities I found in my Latin class.

And this, my friends, is what excites me about the prospect of Ordination within ADF: if Consecration can change me in such beautiful ways, what changes are in store for me when I am a fully Ordained Priest?

This is my 1,500th LiveJournal entry, and I want to thank those who have read this journal since 2002. My longest readers are the most special to me, and I often think about what you must have seen as you've followed this blog. Don't worry, there is much more to come.