Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Journey's Detour

There was no gnashing of teeth or rending of clothes.
No wailing or fits of anger.
But I have experienced an overwhelming sadness. No scratch that. It's not sadness really. But more of a desolateness. A desert time...

I met with the 4 examiners on Friday morning. Each one kind, gracious and welcoming. Basically, the "alternative" exam turned out to be the same written exam everyone gets, but the examiners got to ask follow up questions, clarifying questions, etc. Again, I reiterate, everyone was extremely kind. At the end of the 2+ hours, they all retreated to another room while I waited. After the first 20 minutes, I realized it was all over. I've seen enough Law and Order episodes to know that when juries deliberate too long, it ain't good news.

When they all returned, they had that peculiar expression on their faces - a mixture of sympathy and concern. I was done for.

I wish I could remember everything they said. All four took turns giving me their impressions and reasons why I wasn't "passed". But the message was pretty uniform and as I can best recall it it went something like this:
'Although it is plainly evident that you have a pastor's heart and any church would be blessed to have you serve it, you do not easily use the reformed language to express your theology.'
They then went on to give the example that I had not used the term "sovereignty of God".

All I could think of at that moment was, "but I talked about the omniscience and transcendence of God, I talked about God working in and through everything and everyone to ultimately bring about completion in the fullness of time..." Regardless, I had not delivered what they were they were looking for.

Two of the examiners, local theology professors, offered to meet with me and provide tutoring. Everyone commented on my call to ministry; according to them obvious, infectious and effervescent. And all encouraged me to not give up, to try again, to push forward.

And then we all prayed while I wept.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Exam - Round 3

At this very moment, at this singular second of my existence, I can most assuredly state... I hate my life. Four words I forbade my daughters to say; words that I found demeaning, trivial and so completely self-centered. But this is my truth right now.

In exactly 24 hours, I will be sitting for an oral examination of reformed theology. This will be my third attempt. Yes, you read that right. Third. That means I failed the previous two times, both written exams. Both times that I studied, reviewed and entered the examination process with confidence and faith. Both times that I received results that left me bewildered. Needless to say, any sense of self confidence has been shattered.

Each time before, I refused to consider the possibility of not passing. Of course I'd pass! This time - although I am trying to put my best face forward - I am all too familiar with the let down and the heart break.

I suppose I could come up with a bunch of reasons or excuses why I flounder at the reformed theology exam. But none of it means anything. I can't move forward in my call until I satisfy this last requirement: demonstrate my profiency in reformed theology to the ordination exam readers/graders.

I suppose if there is one small, tiny glimmer of comfort is that it is a group of human beings - fallible and insecure as I am - who sit in judgment of my ability. God remains silent. God already issued my call to ministry. There is no need for God to say or do anything else.

Perhaps God is just waiting for us all to catch up. Me -to remember which Confession deals with covenant or sacraments or stewardship -and my graders to uncover my deeper truths, ones that will serve God and not so much the examination paradigm.

Thy will be done.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Sleep Talker

I've been asked on a number of occasions what are the quotes I post as my Facebook status from time to time. I admit they can sound pretty random. For example:

"Accuse me of being Mr. Happy or shut up!" or this one,
"Can you dance like this? Ha! I didn't think so.. you and your lampshade!"
or how about this recent quip -
"Look at me, are you the singer? Just tell me. Singing? Stop it then. Stop your damn singing!"
These little gems are the nightly ramblings of my better half. For some years now (I'd say 10 or so) my sweet husband yells in his sleep, violently sits up in bed, curses, talks incessantly and yes, kicks, swims, flies or whatever other physical demonstration of his dreams happens to erupt.
For those who don't know him, I should explain that sleeping/dreaming Aleco is nothing at all like the waking one. When awake and conscious, my better half is a gentle, mild-mannered, courteous and peaceful individual. He's been accused of being too laid back sometimes and he certainly does not use foul language.
Enter the sleeping Aleco. I'm not sure I like this guy very much, but he certainly entertains me. From what I have been able to observe, this character believes himself to be a super hero, is convinced that squirrels are out to get him (probably due to the fact that waking Aleco has accidently run two over and still feels racked with guilt over their murders), and he can't stand pretty much anyone in his space.
Like I said, sleeping Aleco is not at all like waking Aleco and I can't help wonder what exactly his psyche is working through while he slumbers. Yes, he's particiapted in sleep studies and he's been diagnosed with sleep issues. Something to do with too vivid dreams and the ability to actually act them out while sleeping. Well, duh. I could have diagnosed that as well. Like the time he dreamt he was tackling an intruder and he flung himself out of bed, landing on the nightable and requiring a midnight run to the ER for stitches. Or another time when he dreamt he was with a group of skydivers and the person in front of him wouldn't jump and consequently he kicked me out of bed with a satisfied yell, "Now you jump, baby!"
Yeah, I don't really like this guy, but he doesn't last very long. As a matter of fact, when I open my eyes in the morning, it's waking Aleco who greets me with a warm smile and sweet kiss.
And that makes the nighttime adventure all worth it...