Thursday, May 21, 2009

Am I Where I'm Being Sent?

Last night, we went to serve dinner to the homeless at First Lutheran. I've really grown to appreciate the Wednesday night service afterwards; in fact, in the fall, I plan to come each week for worship (the church doesn't serve dinner or have services on Wednesday during the summer).

We started by singing the great Pentecost hymn, "Spirit of Gentleness" (#396 in the Evangelical Lutheran Worship book). I love that last verse in particular, with its images of dreams and visions and sight, but the poetry of the whole hymn really appeals. We finished by singing "Here I am, Lord" (#574 in the ELW). It, too, has poetic language.

I found myself singing more powerfully than usual. Sometimes, this song wrecks me, and I can't sing for crying. I've been singing this hymn since my Lutheran Student Movement days in college, and it always makes me wonder if I'm where I'm meant to be. Is God calling me elsewhere? The refrain, with its language of hearing God and being willing to go where God leads, has always been a powerful one.

Lately, I've been researching both programs that would certify me to be a spiritual director as well as programs that would lead me to ordination, which I assume would also certify me as a spiritual director, but one who could give communion, who could consecrate the elements of bread and wine.

The one thing lacking in the Wednesday night service is Communion. I wonder why they don't offer it?

Every time I participate in the Eucharist service, I think, I could do this every day and not grow tired of it. I used to joke, "But that doesn't exactly make a career plan, does it?" But perhaps it's an indicator.

Yet, I look at how much seminary costs, and I'm a bit flabbergasted. I'd probably spend at least $80,000 (the graduate certificate that would leave me certified to be a spiritual director would cost somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000, and I could do it online, except I'm not sure that I want to do it online). And realistically, I wouldn't be spending it--I'd be taking on debt, so the program would end up costing more. And I'd graduate, and I'd be almost 50 years old. Is this wise?

So, I feel I'm in a period of discernment. One of the reasons why seminary appeals is the idea of a community, a spiritual one and an educational one. Maybe I could create that in other ways. My mind immediately goes to the grandiose: I'd buy land and create a retreat center, complete with a chapel, where we could worship daily, and a creativity center, where the art supplies would always be ready.

Perhaps that dream is equally unrealistic. But then, I return to that Pentecost hymn, #396, with its portrait of women seeing visions, men clearing their eyes, and people arising with bold new decisions. Maybe my problem is not one of being too grandiose, but of being too timid and not daring to dream with boldness.

4 comments:

Mrs. M said...

I just finished a 2-year spiritual director's training program-- it was a WONDERFUL experience. I wanted to comment, though, because I was amazed how many clergy were part of the course and said they never received similar training in their professional formation. Mainlines to Mennonites, pastors ordained 30 years ago and 5 years ago, all said the same thing.

(And I feel the same way about the Eucharist. You, and discernment, are still on my May prayer list.)

Kristin said...

Thanks for commenting! Good information to know--but sad about seminary failing in this regard.

Where did you do your training?

Mrs. M said...

I did my training with Oasis Ministries in Camp Hill, PA. Shalem, in Bethesda, MD, has a great reputation, too.

Kristin said...

Thanks for the info--I'm in the process of checking out the Shalem programp--the website looks interesting!