Monday, November 20, 2006

discernment

I believe that every Christian is in a constant process of discernment. We seek to hear with our ears and see with our eyes and open our hearts to that which God is asking us to do.

This has been my challenge since my baptism 3 years ago. When I was baptized, I was a member of a Unitarian Universalist church. I was very active there... a member of the Committee on Ministry, chair person of the Membership committee, lay worship leader, worship assistant, etc. etc. I knew, within a week of converting, that I had to open myself to God to know when (and if) it was time to leave my church. I prayed. I read scripture. I listened for God's voice in my heart. At first I fretted about it. I would go around in circles in my head and try and decide what the right course of action was. But then, one day, I came to trust that God would guide me in this, as he has in everything else. I stayed for 2 years.

On the 2nd anniversary of my baptism, I was on a leadership retreat with the rest of the leaders of the church. It was a stunning September day. The water in Duxbury bay was crystal clear. The sky was deep blue. The sand was warm and the breeze cool. I walked down to the beach and sat, alone, facing the ocean. "This is the day that the Lord hath made" I thought to myself. "Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

As I sat there meditating, I heard God's voice in my heart:

You are a Christian.

That is the truest thing about you.

At that moment, I knew I had to leave Bell Street and find a Christian Church. I cried all the way back to Rhode Island that afternoon. And cried for three days after that. But I knew, without any doubt, that God was asking me to leave there.

Now I am at Grace Episcopal church and am, once again, finding myself in the discernment process. I am at a church I like, but in a denomination with which I have serious disagreements. I am finding myself longing for Roman Catholicism, which in itself must be the movement of the Holy Spirit. And part of me feels it is the obvious choice to leave Grace and find a local RC parish and get the kids into catechism with their friends and once and for all be where I am instead of looking to the next thing.

And yet,

And yet.

God has made it very clear that I am to stay where I am. I do not know the plans he has for me. I do not understand why I am where I am. I can only hope and pray that as he speaks, I have ears to hear and eyes to see and an open and obedient heart. I can only pray that I learn to sit in God's presence with patience and joy and be where I am, even if it isn't where I think I belong.

Give me the grace, Beloved, to listen with my whole heart. Give me the strength to do as you ask. Give me patience, Beloved, to trust you. Unstop my ears. Open my eyes. Help me discern your will.

4 comments:

Widening Circles said...

I hope you don't mind me commenting all over your blog, LOL. Because really, I keep reading and so often thinking I could have written the same.

On my own journey from church to church, one big thing I've learned is to see discernment as a way of life, not just a decision-making tool where you make a choice once and for all and never have to think about it again. Day by day we we are discerning God's presence in our lives, and what it means.

And yes, more than once I have thought you sounded very "Roman." And all I can say is, if that's where you need to be, you'll know.

Thanks so much for sharing all of this.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

I LOVE that you comment all over my blog, LOL. I am very grateful to be sharing this journey with fellow travelers, even if we seem to be heading off in different directions. The common thread, I think, is that we are listening to the voice of God in our lives and praying for the willingness to act on what we hear.

Love++++

e-Mom said...

Really Rachel? Perhaps you're attracted to the ceremony and the theatre of the RCC. Do investigate their doctrine carefully before making a leap. :~)

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Hi e-mom,

LOL, if I wanted theatre and ceremony, I could stay in the Episcopal church. As one friend's (Unitarian) mom said after a big church event,

"Wow, those Episcopalians really know how to put on a parade..."

For me to say what attracts me to Catholicism would probably take a book to write... but I appreciate your pointing out that I would need to be sure of the doctrines before making the leap. I agree with you completely.