It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
This is, perhaps, our Little Gidding. we have returned to the place where we started, with a goal of staying, of resting, of praying and learning. We have come to serve.
I quoted from t.s. eliot’s poem, above; an excellent piece about the journey of faith. I did not think that the journey would bring us back here, and that my ministry would be what it is now. I started out as a young woman, before I left home, to be a writer, and writing seems to be what God has put back in my hands.
I also asked for a ministry of witness. Certainly, we have the public ministry of witness, of being Plain dressed and Plain living people in a world that changes overnight. We represent, in our way, tradition and continuity. This is a central tenet of the Anglican way, even for those who are not Plain. We look to the past, and we embrace our history. It isn’t always a happy history, but we have deep roots. Parts of our liturgies transcend time and denominational differences; we can look to the early church, and draw a line to our present time, with no interruptions.
In our way, there is a great respect for those who went before. We don’t rely on our own perhaps feeble understanding, the mixed messages our minds and desires impose on the clear voice of the Holy Spirit. We look to the great voices of the past who were closer to God and clearer in hearing Him. We are people with history. We communicate with the teachers who went before us – Chrysostom, Basil, Gregory, Margery, Julian – down to those who lived into our lifetimes, and some who are living still. C.S. Lewis. N.T. Wright. We have a body of literature to inform us. We respect education, we honor prayerful and holy lives. These are as rabbis to us.
To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgement, and equity; to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels; to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
I was always a girl with curiosity. I read at a very early age, and read well above grade level. I had my first poetry published when I was fifteen. I wrote professionally for several years. My writing skills and that natural curiosity, along with an intellect in the gifted range, gave me the ability to write papers and essays for university and seminary classes that were more than mere exercises. I learned and listened not just in class, but in hourss pent in the library, poring over journals and books.
Although our path has taken us to the homestead, I am not throwing away that education, nor God’s gift of intelligence and understanding. I am not at all concerned anymore for paid ministry. If it comes, well, it will be by God’s will. I had asked for a challenge in ministry, to face those who may hate me, who may turn on me, who may judge and condemn me for my witness of faith, tradition and reason. God didn’t put us here to be safe. God sends us out (or back) to be witnesses to the lost and wandering, to call sinners to repentence, to heal the sick, to feed the hungry.
That’s what I’m doing. It brings out the worst in some, especially those who are complacent in their understanding. God wants to challenge us all, to grow as Christians (little Christs) and to follow more nearly – not by rules, but by love.