Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Monumental Journey Towards Ordination - Volume 7

I seem to be bouncing around a bit. I started in the first post telling about my first step in declaring my call to ministry. Somewhere along the line I got off the timeline and went back to what got me to church. We will call this a flashback sequence. But, if I want to get this project done before I am actually ordained, I better jump forward in time. Maybe, I won’t jump, but fast-forward. I went to that church (Oak Hill in Austin) for a while. I quit that job at KHFI and I went camping. I took my dog Bodhi and loaded up my truck and drove. We camped in Oklahoma, Arkansas and in just about every state on the way to New York where I visited my parents for a while. Then I took off and went to Pennsylvania to see some friends. I stopped by to visit some friends at the radio station I used to work at in Pennsylvania. While I was there I met a man who ran a new division of that radio company in Austin, Texas. He told me to go back to Austin and he would give me a job. So after a little more camping, off I went. I got a cool job which gave me more time to go to church. I got baptized and joined the church. I got more involved. I felt a call to ministry (that was covered in an earlier post). I went to talk to Pastor John and began the inquiry process which got stalled when I hadn’t been a member long enough and restarted a couple months later (also covered earlier). This brings us back up to volume four and my time with Tina Carter at First UMC in Austin. Sometime after I started visiting that Saturday night worship service I: got laid off from my job, fell in love and got engaged, applied to and got accepted to Perkins School of Theology at SMU in Dallas, and finished up the first step or my ordination inquiry process.

So, in the fall of 2001, I packed up my stuff, sent my dog to live with my sister and drove to Dallas to start seminary. I moved into a horrible little apartment about ten minutes from the school and began some of the hardest months of my life. I had never really thought about it before in these terms, but beginning a Master of Divinity degree program less than two years after my baptism was a really crazy thing to do. First of all, nearly all my fellow students had years and years of background that I didn’t. I was one of the younger members of the entering class and I hadn’t grown up the church. I had learned a lot already but many of my classmates were much more familiar with the history, tradition and beliefs of the church as well as much more familiar with scripture. Some of the folks in my classes even had undergraduate degrees in religion. I was a communications major who hadn’t even been through confirmation.

It also occurs to me as I look back that spiritually I was a very new Christian. I hadn’t had time to develop the spiritual depth and foundation to support me through the incredible stress of the workload, the complete upheaval of my life, and the loneliness (all my new Christian brothers and sisters were back in Austin as was my fiancé!)

And then just as I was hanging on by a thread, reading more than I had ever read, learning to write at a Master’s Degree level, trying to continue my spiritual journey, my fiancé, Alisha, calls one day crying. After some prodding, she tells me she has a brain tumor. I have to tell you, for both Alisha and I, before that point, we only used “brain tumor” to describe what something wasn’t, as in “Well, at least it is not a brain tumor.” She had a pretty big one and it needed to come out right away. I was back in Austin that night, leaving seminary behind, for a while.

More soon!


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