My current blog subtitle is “musings from an accidental minister.” Maybe I should change it to “musings from an irreverent reverend.”
After all, it was only accidental the first time.
Knowing how to be an ordained minister is proving to be a complex journey for me. I seem to spend a lot of time debating whether or not I want to be publicly known as a Reverend or not, what it means to me, how it changes how I live my life, and on and on inside my head.
Here’s where the journey started. I was curious about the Universal Life Church and sent them an email. I asked about their ordination and gave them my address so they could send me more information.
They sent me an ordination certificate. I as officially ordained.
I laughed it off. And kept the certificate.
Several years later I was in Rochester, NY, attending Plymouth Spiritualist Church. It was the first church I’d regularly attended. And, once I got over my feeling about that, I started taking classes in spiritual healing and mediumship. At the time, I decided that it was my path to a college degree. Once I finished the course and passed the exams, I could turn those course hours into college credits.
I ended up on the ministerial track as it seemed efficient. By the time I did all the healing and mediumship coursework, I might as well do a bit more (and attend a 2-week, in-depth, thrown-in-the-deep-end pastoral skills course) do another exam or two and be an ordained minister in the Spiritualist church while I was at it.
Plus, I felt my uncle and grandpa, both of whom had been heavily involved in the Christian Science church, cheering and jumping up and down in spirit when I enrolled. Really, I did. I had to ask them to be quiet so I could concentrate on my lesson. If I hadn’t been comfortable with the spirit side of things, it would have been spooky, they were making so much racket. OK, it was a little spooky. I was alone, it was night, things in my house started banging and rattling.
But they settled down and became an almost-silent cheering section as I continued through the coursework, lead services and took exams.
Clearly it was an important goal for me. My final oral exam in front of the national board of directors was scheduled for right around the time I was due with my youngest daughter. I delivered her 3 days before her due date and traveled 2 hours with my week-old baby to take the exam. It was that or wait another 6 months (they met only twice a year). And my then-husband’s sister was getting married in the summer and I was going to be her minister.
Everything went great. I passed my exams. Then I passed my baby around to be loved on. And then we drove home.
At the time, my church didn’t have a place for me. It’s a complicated story. And I needed to focus on being a mother, building my freelance business and caring for my family. So I stepped away. And never took on the Reverend’s mantle.
The bottom dropped out of my life shortly thereafter.
With two young kids and a family crises to take care of, I stopped going to meditation circles, stopped leading services at church, stopped even attending for a while. For about 18 months, I went somewhere else inside myself. A place of survival.
Eventually, I came back out. And changed my life some more.
Fast forward a few years and now I’m married again. The kids are still relatively young, though, I work full-time and there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day.
I’m still not sure how to share my gift of spirit. Through music? Through words? Perhaps just through small, everyday acts. I work to become a more vibrant person, to provide a positive outlook, to be kind and show compassion.
But am I a ready to be a Reverend? Whatever that means.
Do I take up the mantle, add the title before my name and accept however that changes things — my life, people’s perceptions, anything and everything.
I know I worry that, should I tell people I’m an ordained minister, that I’ve accepted the call of my understanding of God, they’ll expect something better from me. But perhaps I’m ready for that challenge.