February 25, 2012

I’m reading Mark D. Roberts’ Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and as good as it is (and it’s very good!), much like all books dealing with theology and the Church I’ve tried to read since I’ve been out here in Arizona, it kinda hurts to read, for it brings back a lot of memories of that eight year period from 1994-2002 where I was pursuing the priesthood in the Episcopal Church in the dioceses of Massachusetts and Kentucky. It was a period where I truly felt “touched”; where all my energies and spiritual cylinders were running at their most optimal speed.

As Dickens once wrote, those were definitely “the best of times and the worst of times”. So many highs, a few real lows. And I mean real lows – like, lows that would have wrecked most people’s lives for good; it was that bad. As intense as the seminary experience was (I was doing theological studies at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (LPTS) in the morning, playing database administrator at UPS in the afternoons, and writing papers at night into the wee small hours of the morning), I nevertheless loved it deeply and never felt so alive and physically, mentally, and theologically challenged as I was then. I look back and can’t even recognize who that person was; it was that much of an otherworldly experience. And life since then pales in comparison.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what might have been. There’s a part of me that thinks the greatest mistake I ever made was to not accept the offer of LPTS’s Dean to convert to Presbyterianism and accept her offer of a full scholorship in their Master of Divinity program (as a committed Anglo-Catholic I turned her down). There’s also a part of me that accepts the fact that – for reasons not worth getting into here – I was turned down for the priesthood by the Episcopal bishops of Massachusetts and Kentucky for reasons beyond my control. That being said, fact is, I’m willing to accept the hard truth that it was my fault I failed to meet their requirements (rightly or wrongly) as to their interpretation of what God’s calling truly meant, and in that regard the hard truth is, I was a dismal failure. I wasn’t good enough.

In the cool of the evening, under happy pineapple lights on the patio and looking up at star-filled skies as nearby palm trees rustle in the northeast breeze, I know my own weaknesses, ego, and inadequacies are as much to blame as anything else, and therefore none of this was ever meant to be. My life journey is what it is – no more, no less. I sometimes wonder whether it was God’s will that I not be a priest because He knew I would have given so much of myself that there would have been nothing left for those who love and care for me. Maybe there is such a thing as too much intensity.

Regardless, there will always be in me a huge empty space: the space of what might have been but never was and never can be. Which is not anything close to a tragedy – after all, I’m no different from millions of people who live out their earthly lives dealing with the “what is” vs. the “what could have been”. You’ll have to excuse me: it’s late and I only write this after watching “Tin Cup” and hearing Bruce Hornsby’s “Nobody But Me” – a song that, for whatever reason, has always struck a particular chord in my soul:

Oh I wish I could laugh
When I look way back
To find out who stole all my dreams
Whoa I wish it was easy
To face the fact, there’s nobody there but me

Not sure what else is left to say. I think as long as I avoid theological books in the future I’ll be OK and able to escape a darkness I find very difficult to handle. It’s not God’s or the Church’s or anyone else’s fault – if there is anyone to blame, to quote Bruce Hornsby, there’s nobody there but me. And that’s OK, it is what it is. I just wish it didn’t hurt so.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:07 | Comments (2)
  1. On a lighter note….a friend posted on FaceBook that she felt like slapping an idiot. I replied back, “you must be traveling with our political candidates.”
    Also, if not for your pursuit that brought you to KY, I would not have met you two and my life would have been much emptier and would have less love in it. So maybe God said, “Jana needs you and she lives in KY”.

    Comment by Jana — February 25, 2012 @ 5:43 am

  2. Hadn’t thought of that, but you could be right there. Our time in Kentucky gave us a chance to meet you and know you, and I wouldn’t have learned that “the Gene Snyder” or “the Watterson” are not a delicatessens but highways. 🙂

    Comment by The Great Whire Shank — February 25, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

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