I am often asked to tell my faith story, often starting with the question: why did you become a priest? The more time that goes by, the more I realize that we put the emphasis on the wrong question. Perhaps it is less about why I got into this in the first place, but more importantly, why did I go through with it, even after seminary! That’s the better question! Or maybe we should be more honest with the state of the church and say: Are you crazy or just stupid to still be doing this?
We love origin stories, because they serve to teach us something, but Jesus is far less interested in where we come from and much more interested in who we are and what we are looking to do.
My macro-level view of what goes into discernment—the process of listening and reasoning through an issue, often about vocation (ordained or not)—is actually pretty simple:
We spend a great deal of time thinking and listening and reflecting and torturing ourselves until a moment in which a decision must be made. What often gets lost is what happens after the decision. We are called to a new discernment and clarification of one’s role in her community and beyond. A new period of dreaming and anticipation. A place we never arrive at if we focus only on what brought us to that point.
So I am led to still be a presbyter because I am called to be the one who gathers the community of faithful believers around the table and helps inspire and encourage each of us to audaciously call for the Holy Spirit to be among us. And the reason I am called is the vision I have for that community: both who and how we are gathered.
That vision speaks in words of equality and paints in pictures of many colors. We are called to be creative worshippers and inspired ministers. In other words, GOD calls us all to be artists, and our craft is worshipping and ministering to others. We must build up our creativity, enthusiasm, and risk-taking, and I am called to help communities do that.
To paint love on and in the hearts of those around us.