I have spent the past week on holiday (sort of) In truth I never really switch off. In recent months, I have started a new Masters course, submitted a book manuscript and been ordained as an interfaith minister, as well as keeping up with support of my Yoga for Cancer students. It has all been circling in my brain.
In the course of all of this, I retired my blog Ceibhfhion. I had been thinking about it for a while. Looking back on some of my earlier posts, I can see a journey, and I sometimes cringe at where I was on the journey at the time of writing. My writing has evolved – a PGCert in Creative Writing served me well- but so has my thinking and my spiritual focus. The two years of my interfaith ministry training was a deep dive into the shadows. Becoming a minister is not- and probably shouldn’t be – an easy ride.
On top of all of this – my lay ministry in the church has come into question. Can you be two things? I think so. I find it easy to be two, three, four, multiple things. They are all expressions of my service in the world. There are those who question the validity of an interfaith minister’s ‘ordination.’ I understand the struggle to come to terms with something outside of the traditional understanding of what an ordained minister is, of how they come to be ordained, of who they are serving, of all the matters of faith, and creed and doctrines associated with the mainstream Christian understanding of church ministry.
It is not the same thing at all. Except in the sense that we are charged with doing the work of God (other interfaith ministers have other words) and being of service in the world. This takes many shapes and forms. Neither is it opposed to, or contrary to Christian ministry. It is deeply complementary. At the heart of it is love. This is fundamental to our shaping and training. Since that is at the heart of Christian teaching, I don’t see an issue. But then, I am not in charge …(thank God)
I have been reflecting ( more like anxiously wrestling) on what this means for my sense of belonging. How all of this impacts on my studies, my work, my worship life. This belonging story is nothing new. The lack of belonging for people on the autistic spectrum is written into the bones of our narratives. Its cousin, fear of rejection, playing wingman, stirring up the dregs of childhood (and adult) traumas. The old stories of not – and never – belonging, no matter how hard I try.
What maturity brings, of course, is an understanding of how these stories have been shaped. I could easily paint myself into a corner with this old and tired version of myself, or I could step boldly and strongly into an identity that I know to be filled with nothing but loving integrity. This is why this new website, unlike all of my old websites and blogs, has my own name.
This week, I have consoled and bolstered and emboldened myself with the writings of Christians on the fringe. The priests and ministers and lay folk who take risks, defy the establishment, live to tell the tale. Those who are much more concerned about the Way of Christ, than the ways of the establishment.
One of them – Dave Tomlinson – writes “Church is not supposed to be a place of theological `purity’ or rigid conformity to certain beliefs and conventions, but a mishmash of believers, doubters, dissenters and malcontents, each of whom is grappling in his or her own way towards a mystery that is God.”