Oh, the Deacon You’ll Be[come]

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On Friday, November 7, 2014, I was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church. A few days later, my friend Christie asked me about what it was like since she’ll be ordained in a few weeks herself. I started typing her my response and this is what I came up with:

 

It’s weird.

 

First off, many people will tell you congratulations. These people clearly have no idea what a deacon is. Of course it’s a new role that you’ve worked hard to make it to, but this role is about service to the poor and marginalized and obedience to ecclesiastical authority. “Congratulations” just feel wrong. The only way you can make sense of this entire event is through a generous, creative, and funny God and ‘congratulations’ seems to be giving you too much credit. That said, say ‘thank you’ for that card that might have a gift of cash that you plan on buying shoes with.

 

You will expect to arrive at the church and receive the attention and concern of your bishop and his staff. You won’t. They are stressed with last minute preparations and only want to make sure everyone is hitting their marks. But seeing their stress, you become that much more thankful for their work.

 

Vest carefully. Or at least hope that a kind colleague will point out that you forgot to button your alb on the inside. When clergy gather like this, the vesting room is weird. Some people know and love you. Some people size you up. Some people will give you advice on becoming clergy but be careful what you listen to. Some people’s advice says more about them than about the church.

 

During the procession, look solemn. That is, until you notice a cousin in attendance who you weren’t expecting but so happy to see. Now you can’t not smile. The service will go by in a flash. All you need to remember is to say your lines and don’t lock your knees. Be aware that heels plus a lacy alb might mean some tripping so be careful when you kneel.

 

After the service, it won’t really hit you. You won’t feel different, except for a little. There are way too many hands to shake and too much gratitude to express, but try anyway. Smile for the pictures. Breathe.

 

That evening when you check your phone, you will have 200 facebook notifications. Facebook notifications trigger a release of dopamine in your brain so this will make you giddy. That is a scientific fact.

 

On your ride home, you will be alone with your husband and he will ask you earnestly “What can I do to support your ministry?” and you’ll nearly cry because he’s already written seminary tuition checks and helped proofread papers at the last minute and spent his first wedding anniversary volunteering at a church strawberry festival and so so many other things that make him a supportive partner that you don’t deserve. “Please just remind me to laugh.” you respond to him. He then makes you laugh. These inside jokes will be your marriage glue.


You’re a deacon now. And I have to tell you, because there’s really no better word, CONGRATULATIONS!

Ash Wednesday

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I’m going to put something out there: I really like Ash Wednesday. It’s not that I enjoy it per se, but there’s something refreshing about the notion that my humanity is not something to feel guilty about.  Three years ago, when I was in South Africa, we took the kids from the after-school program down to the monastery for their Ash Wednesday service. Brother Andrew explained it to them brilliantly with his thick Scottish accent, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. It’s not a put down. It’s not saying ‘you’re dirt!’ but rather, let God do God’s job and you need to only worry about your own.”

Let me propose that this is the most appropriate day of the year to show up to church with a hangover. What better compliment to the ashes outside your head as a headache in your head- a reminder that you’re not invincible, but prone to gravity. The earthiness of our existence is inevitable. Embrace it for now.

“It is true that we make many mistakes. But the biggest of them all is to be surprised at them, as if we had some hope of never making any.”- Thomas Merton

p.s.- for those keeping track of my Lenten discipline, I’m 1 for 1 now. Cheers!

Lent 2012: Blog ALL the days

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Recently a friend asked me what I wanted to get out of my blog. I answered honestly: I want to be a rock star who gets a book deal and have so much money, I don’t have to only shop in the sale section of Anthropologie. He then asked why I’m so inconsistent in my blogging. Sometimes legitimate things get in the way, like an aunt’s funeral and jobs that pay real money.  Other times my excuses are lousy, like I got caught up in a 30 Rock marathon or I forgot.


I have a few ideas already lined up for these 46 days. (I’m getting ambitious and doing Sundays, too) Here’s hoping the other 41 ideas come to me in due time. Grace, my good friend, I hope you meet me often. And you, internet friends, please keep me honest and nag me if I forget. And let me know if you’re still actually reading this.

And thus began my idea for a discipline for this Lent: blog. Every single day. Something good. Title inspired by the Hyperbole and a Half blog post: This is Why I’ll Never Be an Adult. (It’s funny because it’s true.)

Oh the best laid schemes of mice and men…