Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Monument Journey Towards Ordination - Volume 9

And now, back to our program.

I got off track a bit and now I am going to go back and pick up where I left off in volume 7. I was in my first semester of seminary, barely hanging on when it was discovered that Alisha had a serious brain tumor. (I guess all brain tumors are serious but this one was especially serious.) I have some really vivid memories of getting that phone call in my depressing little apartment. I remember being completely beside myself for a while, then calling Southwest Airlines then calling my sister to get a ride to the airport. Alisha, being the free spirit that she is was not around when I got to Austin. She had tickets to a concert and opted to go.

Alisha was already my fiancée; we had our wedding scheduled for the next spring. However, the next day, I asked her to marry me sooner, before the surgery. She wouldn’t answer me right away, but finally we went to the courthouse and got the license. Our friend Tina performed the ceremony in the chapel at First UMC in Austin the day before Alisha’s surgery. In fact, after the wedding, we had a little cake in the foyer and then, instead of heading off on our honeymoon, we got in the car with her mother and drove to the hospital for pre-op tests.

Because this is about my call to ministry, and not about Alisha, I am not going to write a lot about the surgery. Alisha ought to write a book about the whole thing. The important news is that she did fine and continues to do fine. In fact, given the diagnosis, things went miraculously well. For the point of this series, the key question is, how did this affect my call to ministry?

Looking back, I feel that my calling has always been pretty deep because this part certainly could have derailed it. It wasn’t that it tested my faith; it was that it just sort of got me off track. For two weeks I was focused solely on Alisha. I was just praying, at first, that she would survive, and then I was thinking about recovery, insurance, income and what we were going to do for the next few months.

I thought for a while about dropping out of seminary, for now. And then I did something that really impacted my future ministry. I went to visit the folks at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I decided to finish up the semester at Perkins in Dallas and then move back to Austin to be with Alisha and what turned out to be a wonderful seminary community. And, oh yeah, I ended up back to Oak UMC, but more on that later!


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