Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way . . .

to the bishop suffragan elections in Los Angeles. I discovered that I am called to the vocation of marriage.

Now, this is a really good thing; especially, considering that I have been married (in the Christian sacramental sense) for more than fifteen years! Yet, after all these years, it somehow took undergoing the process of discernment with the Diocese of Los Angeles regarding the election of their bishops suffragan to internalize this truth in a new and deeper way. This was one of the many gifts of my participation in the process - and undoubtedly the most surprising.

For years, I have teased my husband that were he to get hit by a bus, I would enter the monastery as soon as the funeral was over! I sort of felt as if I was married by accident, surprised by God to find myself married on the way to something else; as if marriage were in addition to my spiritual journey.

Now, I had been told by a spiritual director a decade ago that "God doesn't call us to competing vocations." I knew in my head that my marriage was part and parcel of my spiritual journey and its fulfillment, part of my calling to become more fully human in the way of Jesus. But I didn't really make the heart connection until the past six months.

What I realized anew was the way in which Andrew and I have become more fully human, more fully our selves, through the process of mutual listening and mirroring that is the heart of our conjugal spiritual practice. Something about the public nature of this discernment, and the way in which we both showed-up for it, allowed me to see Andrew as other than an extension of myself. I saw him as a poised, mature, engaging, centered adult with his own gifts and distinct personhood. And I really liked what I saw!

At the same time, I was humbled and gratified by the realization that I was able to show-up for this process with a sense of integrity, in part, because of the conjugal practice that has shaped me - that has made me more fully myself. Our marriage isn't about being complimentary, much less co-dependent, but rather about being more fully self-differentiated, alive, and present. And it is precisely on the basis of this self-differentiation that we are able to be more truly connected to one another - more in love in the best sense of that phrase.

So much of what I know about ordained ministry, I have learned together with Andrew. My "vocations" have been one life, one ministry all along.

Who knew that being a nominee for bishop would strengthen my marriage? Thank you, Diocese of Los Angeles, for this unanticipated gift.

1 comment:

Kay+ said...

John, this moved me deeply. This meditation is a gift. Wishing you - and Andrew - and Nehemiah - a joyful Christmas!