I woke up this morning thinking about today's Christmas lunch for our diocesan women clergy. Organized by two of my colleagues, it is an event I have been anticipating with some gladness, eager to be with my sisters of the cloth who I rarely see any more. The more I imagined that time together, however, the more tender I felt. Chances are that our canon to the ordinary will be there, and her presence would pretty much stifle any freedom to share honestly what life has been like for me as a priest in the eighteen months since leaving my last parish. The tears pricked and the sobs began to emerge, and in a few minutes I was out of bed and making my way to the coffee pot. Far removed from the bedroom, I let the tears flow without ceasing and the sobs shook my body as I huddled against the kitchen counter in the cold.
It's all so complicated. Monday was the anniversary of my ordination to the deaconate 18 years ago. Last night a friend was sharing on facebook the joy of her ordination to the same. It was bittersweet to read her posts and see the pictures. I remember the joy, the hope and the promise. Now I am still trying to come to terms with the call whose embers continue to burn within me and the shattered reality of what life can be like in the Church. Or out of the Church, as the case is for me these days.
It is a threadbare life, spiritually. Holiness still permeates my soul, which longs like a deer for refreshment from the stream. I am grateful for the ability to imagine the glow of God's light within, and relieved that I experience a sense of divine companionship as a result. This is an exceedingly lonely time, isolated by geography from the people who matter most to me, and lacking connection with a community that "gets" the pothole-filled road I travel. I am weary of cheery platitudes that trivialize my pain and disregard my experience, and efforts to steer me onto a broad and level path carved out by popular devotion. I wonder if, when I will find my place again among the mediators of grace and sacrament, a place that provides a plumb line of purpose and fulfillment.
Into this hollow place of longing a ray of light fell this morning. A "list" of Christian women bloggers has been compiled and shared, and its existence is being made known across the internet. A friend and colleague who I have come to know and value through the blog world posted a link to the list, and there, tucked into the r's was my very own blog title. It is a glimmer of light, one among 1001, but it is there. Recognized. Appreciated. Not invisible. My favorite line from Antoine de St. Exupery's The Little Prince comes to mind. "If you love a flower that lives on a star, when you look at the sky at night all the stars are abloom with flowers." I don't equate appearing on a list with being loved, but the recognition does serve to refresh my bloom, and I am humbled to be in the company of some amazing women who share and reflect upon what it means to be a Christian woman. To be included is a small thing of huge significance. I may feel alone, but I am in the good company of other seekers who yearn, hope, love, give, weep and pray as part of the larger community of the faithful. Together we bloom, and together our light shines across the universe. I am held up by that light even as I contribute to it in my own way, on my own journey.
Today I am grateful for so much light from sources known and unknown. I will put one foot in front of the other, the tears that flow will water the flower that lives on the star, and I will strive through it all to bloom.