27 December 2009

Pushing on Closed Doors

I'm conscious of the fact that I've not done a lot of blogging since Wonderful Husband and I moved to the United States. I'm not sure of the precise reasons for this. First was the simple disruption and chaos of moving. Moving an entire household overseas is different from moving a household to a different part of the country or even moving overseas with two suitcases and a few posted parcels as I did in my original move from the US to Belgium in 1987. As any middle-aged couple will tell you, house-moving is physically and emotionally demanding but this goes up a notch when the move is international.

More recently, I think that I've not been blogging because I still have not managed to get myself fully "settled" in the US. We undoubtedly picked one of the worst times in our lives to quit jobs and move without any employment prospects. And I have been unable to get gainful employment either in "the secular world" or within the church. But even more discouraging is the fact that I seem unable to even volunteer in the church in any capacity beyond answering a call from this or that committee for volunteers. One of the narratives of my journey to the ministry was a testimony about pushing doors to see if they opened. Here in the US, every door I've pushed has stayed resolutely shut. I particularly miss preaching and presiding at communion, but part of me is aware that these activities are part and parcel of being a church leader, which I am currently not.

I'm reminded of the part of John Wesley's covenant prayer where we pray "let me be employed for you or laid aside for you" and I always secretly thought "thank you that I am employed for you, and - truth be told - I don't really want to be laid aside for you, thank you very much." And then another part of me wonders what John Wesley himself was thinking when he said these words. His life story is not exactly one of allowing himself to be laid aside!

I don't think that this prayer necessarily implies passivity. I don't think it implies giving up on pushing doors. For me, I think it implies the need to find new doors to push and it also implies being patient whilst going through the process of finding new doors and pushing on them. There is also comfort in these difficult words, because other people throughout the centuries have prayed them in far more difficult circumstances than I'm in.

Do I now hit the "delete" button because this is too personal and sounds like whining? I don't mean to whine but I sense that I'm not going to be able to blog further until I'm honest about where I am. We'll see if I find further inspiration in the coming weeks. "Let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing".


Unknown said...

You are naming, as I think you know, the experience of called, educated and committed women in the Roman Catholic Church. We are told to use our gifts "differently." - whatever that means. You keep pushing and your doors will open. I fear ours are shut for a looooong time.

Olive Morgan said...

I assumed that this was the reason why you had not been blogging. The moving itself is bad enough but you need to put down new roots. My prayers continue for your pushing on new doors, so that 2010 may turn out to be a very happy New Year. Hoping to hear good news from you soon.

Rev Tony B said...

I can tell it's a very strange place to be. You've gone home, but you're no longer at home there. You're still an ordained minister, but nobody lets you minister. You're a Methodist, but the Methodism you encounter is different. Seems that the problems we discuss about stationing on our egroup are miniscule by comparison!

You are in our thoughts and prayers. I've tried to think myself into a similar situation, and it's hard to envisage. Part of me in your situation would take the 'closed church doors' as a sign that I might be called to do something different - house-church, some kind of outreach to those not touched by the other churches. Some kind of church-plant. Now, I don't know your context, so I have no idea what that might mean, but I offer it as a thought. I suspect a 'no' is always the reverse face of a 'yes' if we could only figure out how to turn it over! Don't know whether or not that's helpful...

I pray for a happy new year for you both, not just in a conventional sense, but in the hope that 2010 will see some doors open for you, and for you to begin to fnd the way to your Promised Land.

PamBG said...

Dear Judy, Olive and Tony, I've only just seen your comments. I've been relying on the comment notification and I didn't get notified.

Judy, yes, you are correct. Hard to know what to say as a non-RC. I agree with you about the call of women to be priests and I abhor the ontological argument with all my being. I firmly believe that in the future people will understand that this is just as unjust as arguing that "people of XYZ race are not called to be priests because they have a subservient ontology". I can't walk in your shoes, but can only - badly - try to walk with you.

Tony, I'm also taking it as a call to something different. I'm just not sure what the "different" is yet and I'm searching for that different perspective.

I value all your prayers and I apologize for not seeing the comments earlier.