I went to the Chrism Mass today at the Cathedral, followed the Bishop and did my chaplains duties, watched and listened and prayed, plus some easy networking as well as praying and saying hello to people and deepening relationships and friendships and thengetting a tough headache and going home early to take some pain medicine and a nap and in the evening realizing how all this is beyond any preconception I might have had a year or two ago, certainly since my ordination less than six weeks ago.
The only way I can be any kind of a priest is to continually allow myself to be born into God’s will, without putting any kind of projection or desire or fear or preference into that. They will come anyway, but the handing over, “do what you will, take me along, let me try to follow you wherever,” has to be a moment to moment endeavor. I know myself well enough to know that the ides of some kind of holy momentum or goal or “gift I must give” does me harm, makes it into an ego work and a kind of architecture of memory and desire. So in the end, all I can do is begin!
God can grow me as God will, if I keep showing up and listening, honoring the people and places where God plants me, allowing myself to be shaped up by the demands and the blessings of the moment, presenting myself as I can to do what I can. That’s all I can do.
I keep looking at all the imperatives of priesthood, all the shoulds and oughts and don’t do that and do do this, and centuries of norms and expectation: and it could leave me scared stiff! All I really can do is say that I believe I am called to be where I am, that I am a wildly insufficient offering, but all I can give is what I am, and I can try to do that.
Hell, we’re back to the widow and her mite at the Temple treasury. Give what you can, what you have. Today I don’t have much, and I don’t have to have much either; just what is there.
I remember, 11 years ago when I was staying at the San Francisco Zen Center, how impressed I was when the practice leader starting talking after a time of silence; how I felt that their speech came out of the silence, was not manufactured out of business or momentum, but born out of the grace of that particular moment, out of the participation and welcoming of whatever fullness was present in that God-given moment.
Maybe that’s where my hope is: that if I can keep showing up to the present moment, at least most times, then the fulness of those times will keep me fresh, keep me a fresh offering to others, offering what is full and overflowing in the present moment. And that means presenting what is there to be offered: not dependent on great effort, ‘though sometimes requiring it, not needing heroism, although occasionally being asked to evidence it; but mostly simply showing up and letting myself be used.
I am aware that this could be a bit of an abdication of my own responsibility to God, but it can also be a waiting upon God in simplicity, with the awareness that God can furnish what is needed if I stand ready to do the work needed.
Does this make sense?