I went to DragonCon this weekend. To say it was incredible would be a massive understatement. There were costumes, panels, shows, vendors, huge crowds, endless parties, and the beautiful repeating ritual of strangers becoming friends. It was overwhelming in the best possible way, and I was so glad that I'd taken my therapist's advice to buy my ticket last November. I needed the frenzy, the joy, the freedom, the chance to be wild and to abandon grief and shame and quietude. I'm an extrovert by nature, but ministry can be so inward focused and requires so much control, caution and poise. I was none of that over this weekend: I was running to discussions about Elves and painted green with a ring of leaves around my neck; I was laughing and shouting about Hari Seldon and Admiral Adama; I was responsible for no one except my own momentary desires. And I remembered my body. I remembered what it was like to be filled to the brim with life and need and fierce emotion. Perhaps for most of the folks there, it was merely a chance to be with friends and have a bit too much to drink and to wear meticulously designed costumes. But I like to imagine that there were others like me, who felt as if the weekend was transcendent in its whole, a tearing away of that which was gray and heavy in our lives. We were alive; we were accepted; we were apart of something living and growing itself.
I'll be going again next year.
In the aftermath of last weekend, I'm now preparing to move down to the coast of Texas to begin my first Solo pastorate. The church that had told me "no" in May came back to the table with a contrite heart and asked for another chance. I worked so hard to separate their no (which was truly just rejection) from Cliff's sins (which was truly betrayal) and eventually let God's spirit lead me into a yes. So here I stand on the precipice of another new thing, another totally unexpected and yet yearned for adventure. Most likely, my church will have no costume parties or panels on DS9, but it will be laid open for new things to grow out of it. Chances to serve the community; chances to preach the words that God fills my spirit with; chances to walk alongside all my sheep through the sacred moments of life, death and everything in between. When church work is good, it is transcendent, a stripping away of the mundanity of existence and an intersection with the presence of the Holy. When church work is good, it is living and growing and the members who participate in it feel alive and accepted. I yearn for that. To be focused and poised and controlled but also to be wild with the Holy Spirit, to laugh and shout about Scripture and Christ and the Holy moments of life I will live. To remember my whole self, to be filled with life and need and fierce emotion.
I am so afraid.
Afraid of what I will fail at. Of all the obstacles that will stop and transform me. Of all that will go right. About how wrapped up I will be in the lives of people who are now still strangers to me. About the unknowable WHO I will become, the version of myself who still strides ahead of me in the ether of possibility. Afraid because I am building a life for Gareth and myself, totally uprooted from the life that Cliff had any part in.
God speaks to the prophet Isaiah about the restoration of Israel and tells him: "Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
The way lies open for me now, a path that I have been desperate to find for so long. Rivers spring up alongside my journey and I am walking towards a new thing. I open my hands to let go of all the former things, the things of old: the pain, the despair, the betrayal, the frustration, the trauma and loss and hopelessness. I open my hands to receive something new, something from God: Life.
I am ready.