Twenty years a priest today, ordained by Bishop Chet Talton with Laura Queen, Robert Moon, Carol Wade, and Julie Wakelee. I arrived that morning at St. John’s Episcopal Church on W. Adams in Los Angeles, not yet a cathedral, with an upset stomach from too much Chipotle too late on a too-important night. I hadn’t gotten the memo about having a custom chasuble made, as most ordinands did. I’d ordered one from Almy that looked like two acres of fabric for red regimental overcoats. To doll it up, someone gave me permission to wear my beautiful Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles gift stole on the outside. Talk about saving graces, Marjorie Cooley and her fellow Altar Guild members. On top of that, it was raining, and no one had ordered refreshments for the reception.
So it was a perfect day in the church. Kathy, Valerie, Lindsay, Meaghan Ellen, Dan, and my late mother, Jean, were there, along with friends from college, church, and work. Plus my friend and mentor, the Rev. Canon Mark Shier, who had greeted my suggestion I might take up his vocation with appropriate skepticism. As a bishop, with my colleagues, I work with those discerning calls to be deacons and priests in our diocese. If someone such as 1997 John came before us, we would wonder if he was trying to execute a smooth career change. Submit his resume to our God in Christ. I remember hearing I was in my head a lot. In a hospital discernment circle, a young Roman Catholic vocation pointed out how hard I was trying to be likable. Not easy to hear; and yet it was the moment I began to slip the grip of my worst fear.
This morning, I give thanks for everyone who said hard things. Who asked good questions. And who finally said yes, freeing me to do the most wonderful work one can do with the most wonderful people in the world. Pace Mary Chapin Carpenter:
Could be right before your very eyes
Just beyond a door that’s open wide
Could be far away or in your own backyard
There are those who say you can look too hard
For your place in the world
Takes some of us a little longer
A few false starts gonna make you stronger
When I’m sure I’ve finally found it
Gonna wrap these arms all around it.