So I just returned from an amazing trip to NYC where I reconnected with other YASC participants and friends from Hong Kong.
The retreat portion was a chance for the participants to reflect on our experiences and aid in processing all of the things we faced over the last year. It was a little daunting even though I have been back for a while longer than the rest of the group, but I found myself in tears over not only my own feelings but things the others had experienced too. There's a lot that I still need to let go of so that I can be fully present in my journey right now (among them my wanderlust... why is travel so expensive :( ) but overall I feel like I am in a good place to be starting the next phase of my life. This time marked the end of a period of my life that was full of a lot of pain and confusion and guilt and I feel like I got some amount of closure.
The love and support of my fellow YASCers means so much and I love each and every one of them. As we all move into new and exciting times in our lives I know we will remember the special bond we share. I truly felt the presence of God within these people and it is a comfort to know they carry that presence out into the world.
Another wonderful aspect of the trip was seeing two of my very best friends that I made in Hong Kong, Alex and Becca. Their friendship gave me light in dark times and I think Becca and I probably scared some people when we were screaming and hugging at the airport. The sheer joy of being with them again was overwhelming. We had some good times together; I went out with them on Friday night and we sang karaoke and hung out like old times.
I also got to see a lady that used to go to my church here in Murfreesboro, Gail. She moved back to New York a while back so it was good to meet up with her and chat for a bit. So many connections made!
Sunday I had the pleasure of going to Church of the Transfiguration, an anglo-catholic SUPER high church, with my friend Alex. In chatting with the rector there I discovered he had not only gone to seminary with my own bishop, but he also claimed to know Tennessee better than any other state in the union! (He is Australian). Crazy! The service was beautiful, the music was lovely. It was their celebration of Foundation Day (when the church was founded) so the readings and the sermon had to do with church being the place of God. The sermon was brilliant, given by a professor at GTS whose name escapes me. I did take away a thought that I think will help me in my own discernment. He was talking about how becoming an ordained priest is actually a step down; ordained priests step down to serve the royal priesthood of which we are all a part. I think sometimes ordained clergy get lifted up above congregations when really it goes the other way: priests lift up the people they serve. That really stuck with me and I think will be a valuable thought to keep in mind as I go through my own discernment.
Alex and I also met up with Fr. Matthew Moretz, of the Father Matthew Presents video series. I met him at General Convention over the summer and he is really a cool guy. I didn't think he would be available to have a bite with us in the evening but we ended up having pizza around the corner from St. Bart's. St. Bart's, btw, is a BEAUTIFUL church and I could not get over the "beauty of holiness" that the architecture, paintings, and sculptures really imbue in that worship space. It is truly awe inspiring. General Theological Seminary is definitely climbing my list of possible seminaries to check out if, God willing, my process goes that far!
Sadly my time in NYC came to an end this morning as I headed to LaGuardia and boarded a plane. As the sun was rising over the city I felt new joy, new hope for my life and I know that wherever I go, God goes with me.
One final note about my discernment process: we had the first of six meetings last week and will meet five more times over the next several months (ending in April, hopefully). I am delighted in all of the people who agreed to serve on my Vocational Discernment Committee (VDC). I think we have a balanced group of people who will thoughtfully and prayerfully participate in the process. Praise Be to God!
I feel like this saying that our EfM class uses at the end of spiritual autobiographies is appropriate for this moment in my life: "For all that was, for all that is, and for all that will be, thanks be to God." Amen!
Grace and Peace,