|Photo by Mary Helen Peters|
Today is the day I was ordained. Four years ago today. I was asked a series of questions that I re-read every so often simply to recall what it was that I promised that day. Each time I re-read these words, my heart races. My eyes well. Yes. I whisper. Yes.
Today I re-read those words that were offered to me by my dear friend Eric C. Smith. At that point, we had only known each other two months. I don’t know what made us click so quickly but I knew instantly that Eric would be one of those friends that would always be part of my life — spiritually, emotionally and sometimes drunkenly. (Oh please.)
When it came time for me to be ordained, I asked Eric to offer a second Charge to the Ordained. My dear friend from seminary the Rev. Amy C. Gopp offered the first charge. Eric was kind enough to offer a second charge — and gave me a copy of those words so that I might find their meaning again and again. I won’t share the entire charge but I do want to share a few of these words as they are the words I need to hear most. And perhaps that’s true for you too. Eric reminded me:
You will never have God quite figured out, anymore than you will have yourself quite figured out in this lifetime. Live in wonder of this mystery with God. Probe deeper into this mystery with each passing year. Be honest with your questions and your doubts. Do not allow your wrestling to become so choreographed as to be the face of the WWF. Keep working out, both physically and spiritually, to keep up with the new pressures and more difficult moves this ongoing wrestling will require of you.
Eric made a connection to the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel — which was the text that was chosen for me by my mentor in ministry and the preacher at the ordination. That was not the text I chose. I chose this one. Before reminding me to create beauty, Eric reminded me to go watch the sunset more then once on the Eastern Promenade in Portland. I have. I might even go again tomorrow before making the journey to the Women’s Retreat. And then, he says this:
Remember that God is not only your wrestling partner and wrestling coach, but the Divine Creator of the universe and also your adoptive Mother. And as Jesus promises the earlier disciples, you, Elsa, will never be orphaned. The Advocate, the Sustainer, the Spirit of Holiness is with you, always, offering you abundant grace for any challenge.
Eric knows my story. He knows my deepest fears. He knows how my faith has been formed and manages to capture that reminder that I most need to hear on the day I was ordained and years later. I can only hope that we are all so blessed to find a friend, a mentor, a community that reminds us of that great love. Today, I’m thankful for this rare and precious gift.