Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Circle

Here I am again. I've come full circle. The questions are still the same ones, only perhaps the answers are different.

Two years ago, I hit my own personal Easter about the time the church entered Lent. I remember thinking on Ash Wednesday of 2009 that I had finally broken out of the church's box. Although those sentiments didn't get entirely sorted out on my blog until many months later, I knew it was true--my freedom came in being willing to give it all away for the sake of the gospel. Even my diaconal ministry. Even the church. Once I was willing to give it all away, I suddenly didn't have to anymore.

"Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.'" (Matthew 16:24-25).

I sit here at 13 minutes to midnight on the night of the Easter Vigil, 2011, and I am still willing to give it all away. Last night, in the wee hours of Good Friday, I officially had a meltdown, and the truth came out...

Although for the last 12 years or so I have been able to divide my life into TWO distinct eras--Becca BEFORE Africa, and Becca AFTER Africa, for some reason, when I returned from Cameroon in 2002, I just kept living my life according to the plan I had laid out in college, as if Cameroon hadn't profoundly changed me. In the desperation and signature Rebecca impatience that I had to keep moving forward upon my return, I enrolled in seminary, just as planned. Just as planned... when? While I was still a student at Roanoke College, before I left for Cameroon.

The only problem was... I never counted on the plan changing. Somewhere between August of 2000 and July of 2002, the plan changed. I changed.

In February of 2001, while living in Cameroon, I wrote a short story called "Renaissance." In part, it was about giving up on the misconceptions and dreams of who I was before my love affair with Africa began, and embracing the realities of all that I had experienced... I wrote: "How can a quaint railroad town nestled in the mountains of southwest Virginia exist in the same world as the harsh purity of Africa, where life is defined by birth and death and the cycles of the rain? How could we just have sat there, sipping our beers, totally oblivious?"

My life and my journey were irrevocably altered in Cameroon. I found a new path. And yet, when I returned to the US, I chose not to take it. It has haunted me ever since.

Tonight, now 10 minutes into Easter morning--glorious resurrection!--I find myself in a strange predicament. I no longer have any reason not to choose that path that I once abandoned. The shackles have come off. There is no job, no salary, no call. All of the distractions have fallen away. There appears to be only one path forward.

I am not convinced that this means that seminary was a mistake or that I will eventually have to give up my consecration as a diaconal minister. I may not know the answer to those questions for many years to come, if ever. I'm not saying that I regret those things or the resulting experiences, either. But I do know something right now--it is time for me to do something I should have done a long time ago.

I am going to spend some time gaining the pre-requisites I need and studying for the GRE, and then I am going back to school to gain the knowledge I need to do what I have been called to do for at least 10 years... This would be my dream:

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