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Shaky Business and Soft Comfort

So far, this third and final year of seminary has been sometimes awkward and at other times tough.  I think some of it is adjusting to having two students in this household now in school.  And while we're both on The Holy Hill, we don't really see one another as much as either of us would like.  Compounded by puppy needs requiring one of us to come home rather than stay on campus, or other matters that are distractions, it has made the experience feel, for me anyway, altogether fragmented.  I'm beginning to think this is just another part of this on-going formation process.

Last night, I attended a small event at the Deanery to meet and hear The Rev. Alexandra Conrads, Vicar of St. Martha's Episcopal Church in West Covina, CA.  The topic was "Disasters in Ministry" and the content covered some strangely odd, sometimes bizarre experiences in ministry.  Conrads is the subject of a reality show titled "Heaven Help Her" (which has not yet been picked up as a series); the premise is 'a female Episcopal priest who has two missions in life: to save her church and find love in Los Angeles.'  Most matters rotate around a financially-strapped parish, and the myriad things that go less than right, or are out and out weird, and how she copes in ministry while seeking an intimate human relationship.  The pilot even depicts an initial arranged blind date which is comedic itself.  She is raw, honest, sometimes frustrated, mostly always hopeful, and out there... I mean, really out there!

Conrads first offered her solutions before sharing the 'disasters':
      1) Focus on Jesus
      2) Engage in daily prayer
      3) Do daily Bible study
      4) Prepare, prepare, prepare
      5) Communication documentation - keep emails
      6) Have a strong support group/community
      7) Engage in health practices (yoga, walking, jogging, and include regular check-ups)

She is wacky, fun, engaging, serious, and offered her to help all who gathered last night. Conrads provided her contact info, a recommended book list, and handouts asking 'What would you do if:' while outlining some different scenarios, all of which did happened.  She sought our solutions before telling us what she did.  There was learnings exchanged from both sides of the matter.

Last night as I departed, I had to chuckle out loud, wondering if I would be a disaster in ministry.  Would disasters such as these besiege me also in whatever ministry God calls me to perform in His Name?  It's a tough place to be when you feel you have little traction to accomplish what needs to be done, and are beginning to question what you know or how to articulate it well. But God is in the midst of all this, and it is what it is.

This morning, after Heart Of My Heart left for school, Gili-girl came upstairs to check-in with me.  We cuddled a bit on the bed.  I sensed powerful compassion flowing from God, who sent the angel He had at His disposal, to give me soft comfort and furry assurance.  It is impossible to hold an animal, so sweet and loving, and not acknowledge the gift she is from God.  Gili's calm serene look gave me the soothing balm needed to pick up and journey on.  I will continue putting one foot in front of the other to walk this path God has put before me.  I will try to practice the solutions more readily to steel myself up for the disasters that lie ahead.  

Almighty Father, your Seeking Servant prays for guidance.  Lord, only with your help, do I know you will save me from being a disaster in ministry.  AMEN.