The road was quiet and dark. Well, that’s an understatement. This place was desolate of all sound and light. I just knew that I was walking on a dirt road in the deep woods. I did not know what lay ahead, whether further along or at the next step. I didn’t even know what the destination would be precisely. I had been given some clues, but nothing exact. I just trusted the Guide.
Suddenly, out of no where in particular and every where all at once, sounds and flashes of light started to bombard me. Confusion and fear started to grip me. ‘Am I on the right road? Am I going the right way?’ I was overwhelmed and dropped to the ground with my heads at the sides of my head trying to keep the sound and images out. I was almost completely terrified to move another muscle.
‘What was that?’ I thought to myself. ‘I swore I just heard someone call my name as if in a whisper.’
I spun in all directions trying to hone in on the Voice. ‘There it is again’. I could barely make it out from all the noise, but it was stronger this time. Just as I began to realize that the Voice was coming from deep within me, a great light shone ahead of me. The distracting sounds and other images scurried to the shadows. ‘Come this way,’ the Voice called from within and without. ‘I will show you the way.’
Calling . . .
I have some issues with that term. To me, when someone tells me they feel ‘called’ – it comes across as elitist, arrogant. Not the person, mind you. But the process in my head. In a very sarcastic voice, I think, ‘Oh. Sure. Okay.’ On another side, however, I know that this is not the case the majority of the time. This ‘other side’ of looking at things is where I am right now and where I hope to continue to go.
Throughout my life, I have been on that dark, quiet dirt road. Most of the time, however, I am at the point of the endless noise and flashing images that confuse and toss me about like a small boat upon the rough, open sea in the middle of the darkest night. But, ever so often, once in a while, I hear that Voice. The Voice that I had forgotten. And, from time to time, continue to forget. I know, however, that the Voice has spoken deep within me. It started a long time ago...
When I was in college, I was attending a Charismatic church. The desire to study the Bible was released deep within me. After attending there for a few years, I remember standing in my Mother’s kitchen one night. She had already sensed something different about me (that I didn’t see) and she asked me, ‘Why don’t you go to seminary?’
‘A couple of reasons’, I replied. ‘When Jesus called the disciples, he didn’t tell them to go become Pharisees first and then follow him. Besides, most seminaries teach their way of seeing as the only way of seeing.’
At another time, I had a dream. This dream was so real. It was a dream about challenging the Christian tradition within myself and the Christian tradition in American culture. From that point forward, even though I have that dream tucked away, I found that my journey down the ‘dark road’ has done just that. I have gone through so many spiritual upheavals within and challenged so many of the traditions of my friends and family. But one thing has remained constant – my desire to study the Bible and teach others to study Bible.
Further on the journey, I was sitting with my wife in the office of the singles pastor of the church we were attending. We were part of his ‘inner circle’ – or just staring that process. After a few minutes of conversation, he looked me square in the eye, pointed his finger at me, and said, ‘You see yourself teaching thousands of people, don’t you?’ I did. I was afraid to admit it, but I did. I don’t like the weight of such a calling. The burden seems too heavy. So, once more, I followed the distractions of sound and light.
Years later, at another point along this way, I started doing some writing. The writing had to do with the implications of Full Preterism, the view that the Second Coming of Christ took place in 70CE. I wrote four or five articles on this and posted them on a web site. I found out later that some people were using those very articles for a defense of their views. Furthermore, I started self publishing a newsletter entitled Odyssey that spoke directly to the issues of implementing the views of Full Preterism. I had about 40 or 50 subscribers from all over the world. It was an interesting time. I didn’t realize it then, but I was really teaching a lot of people. Maybe not thousands, but, more than I had ever imagined. While I no longer hold to this view of eschatology, I find merit in a lot of it.
Later on, we found ourselves leading a home Bible study with about six or seven people attending. The point was that I wanted to teach people how to study the Bible for themselves. I wanted to show them that they didn’t need someone ‘over them’ telling them what the Bible says. The just needed the tools to learn for themselves. It was there that I really began to realize what ‘church’ was supposed to be and could be again. Little did I realize the impact that had on a number of the people there. One man in particular still dreams of those times. He wishes that he could have them back.
Further still, while attending an Episcopal church, one of my fellow parishioners and good friends told me, quite unexpectedly, ‘You know...you should be a priest. You really have what it takes. I think you would make a good one.’ Once more, I pushed it aside.
I made a couple of good friends along this path and we have been friends for a number of years. Over our vast amounts of conversation and a few spirits along the way, they have told me on more than one occasion that the things I have said to them have led to deep changes in their thinking, worship, and practice. All of this comes as a shock to me. I just see myself as a guy with no special talents or gifts (other than artistic). I’m just a person who loves the Three in One and the Scriptures. I have always thought that everyone could be just like me, if they just had the same tools that I had – the same desire. All it took was someone giving those things to them. But I have come to realize that this is not really the case. Recently, I confessed this out loud. Others have been telling me it for years and when I confessed to them my plans of ordination, their response was ‘It’s about time.’ However, my confession brought an outcome I was not expecting.
I am standing at a crossroads. To my right, I can see the blaze of the fires and hear the cries of the armies. I can smell the scorched earth and see the great stone cathedrals being erected.
To my left, I could see the faint outlines of the monks and barely hear their chants and prayers. I can smell the dark soil and see the simple wooden structure next to the standing stone in the middle of the holy oak grove. The monks lives are simple with a deep devotion to all of life; to the Life within all life. To them, all life is Sacred and they are pointers to the Sacred.
From where I stand, it seems that most of those on the right are concerned with control and power and containing and controlling; of subduing and dominating all of life. To them, they are the containers of the Sacred.
These two groups are clashing against each other and I am in the middle.
This is where I have been lately. The more and more I examine my calling now, of where I feel that the Three in One is leading me, it seems that I am caught in the middle of my own personal Synod of Whitby. I don’t want to be part of an institution that speaks of inclusion and acceptance but only seems to practice it when it’s ‘politically correct’. I want to help be part of an organism that actually births that into existence. I had a glimpse of that just recently.
I had stopped by a local outdoors shop looking to exchange a bag I had recently purchased. While there looking through the other bags and catalogs, I had the privilege of talking with a young man. He was helping me locate a bag that better suited my needs. He asked about what I used the bag for; where I worked; etc., trying to get a better understanding of what I was wanting. When I explained that I led Celtic Morning Prayer, the conversation turned to that. ‘When do you meet? How often do you meet? What time do you meet? What do you mean by “Celtic” Morning Prayer? What’s the difference?’ We had a semi-discreet conversation about these things. I explained a little about them and he was very interested. I gave him a copy of the Office we have been using lately and invited to join us. It was during this conversation that I realized here was a person that was looking for the very thing I was feeling called to do.
On the way home, my memory flashed back to the days of our home Bible study. I felt that there could be a place for this type of thing in my own community. I even had a conversation with a friend of mine (who used to be an atheist) who wanted to know when I got something like that going so he could participate. All of this is surprising to me. While I may acknowledge that the Three in One has called me to this vocation, I still feel so inadequate and unworthy. I can think of a handful of people who would be better suited for this. But, on another side, I see that I am thinking in terms of what a priest would mean in the Episcopal Church. I believe that creation is yearning for a fresh expression of what it means to be Christian. I think that the Lindisfarne Community is addressing that need in a way that resonates within me and within a lot of other people I know. I am excited about being a part of this type of Christianity. What I lack, however, is how to get the word out, to let people know that it exists. On the other hand, I realize that it is not up to me. That is up to the Wild Goose, the Holy Spirit, to lead others along this path. All throughout the history of the church, it has be the laity that seems more attuned (at times) to the way the Wind is blowing. So I am confident that, when the time is right, the Way will be opened and, while I may not feel ready now, I will be then.
In The Grace of the Three in One,