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August 01, 2004 - Lughnassadh, and the beginnings of my search

Last night I sat down with Tina over dinner, partially to discuss some things that have been bubbling up inside for a while.

See, the thing is, I've had a desire to study for clergy for years. I'd say, probably, since at least 2000, probably since as early as 1998. It's grown and it's built ever since then, and there's a kind of pressure to it.

It doesn't help matters that I keep getting the following statements:

1) "You'd make a great priest."
2) "You're a good listener and I like to talk to you about my problems"
3) "You have a good voice for ritual, and you carry yourself well."
4) "You're a very religious person, aren't you?"
5) "You're already on the Clergy track."

Now, none of those statements bother me. They don't cause crises. They don't make me worry.

Thing is, though, I'm not sure that I have the requisite vocation. No "calling", if you will. It's something I want to do, but is it something I'm destined to do?

So I want to try it. I want to experience it. I want to find out if it works for me. I want to see if that calling is there.

Nothing wrong with that. It's easy to do in ADF. There's a process to go through in which you can take on what's called "Dedicant Clergy", which is kindasorta like "clergy with training-wheels". You have permission to do the "marrying and burying" and all that jazz, but you don't actually have the same level of responsibility and work involved with regular ordained clergy.

Sounds great right? Well, there was one problem: Tina.

See, it's not so much a problem. It's more of a point of discussion that we've briefly flirted with in the past. It's something like this:

M: "I think one day I'd like to be clergy."
T: "I don't date clergy."
M: "Why not?"
T: "Because they're hypocrites (or celibate or manipulators)."

That's usually the end of the discussion.

So before I made any decisions, I started out talking to my Gods. I knew for a fact that I'd have to talk to Tina about it eventually, but I didn't want to do it right away. First, I went to Eris.

Eris informed me that I'm the problem, really. She's wont to do that. But really, she tested my resolve to even bother with it, and forced me to see the actual issue: what I want.

Esus was a different matter. Rather than focusing on what was outside, he changed my focus. Really, it's him who's been pushing me forward: starting a Grove, finishing my DP, working on the GSP, and my enthusiasm toward the Clergy Training can all be traced to him. We discussed his expectations, and how I live up to them. He helped me decide that really, a kid should not always stand in his father's shadow, but needs to grow independently, and make his own choices. He revealed the road I've taken, and reminded me what I've passed up. He showed me what he would do in my place: follow his heart.

Next, I talked a bit to one of ADF's clergy about the process. We went back and forth over email, me just kind of feeling out the process, seeing what was involved. It seemed pretty simple. In the end, this may have affected my decision most, as I ended up with a new-found respect for the traditions of ADF, as young as they are. I'm not technically eligible for Dedicant Clergy status for one more year, but I can apply for an exemption.

The question now had a new dimension: do I want to try to push this through and request an exception to the rule, or do I want to play by the rules and work with them? How do the virtues fit into this? If I'm going to act with integrity, should I be looking at ways to circumvent the rules? If I want to act with hospitality, should I ignore the rules set down? If I wish to act with wisdom, should I rush in just because I believe that ADF would grant the credentials? Finally, if I truly wish to be pious, should I even consider clergy credentials in order to "test the waters"?

Finally, over dinner, I talked to Tina. I told her that I was thinking of the Clergy program. I told her that I wanted to try it out. This led to a discussion of where we were in our relationship. It wasn't as hard as I had thought it might be.

We talked about how we saw the relationship. We're best friends, she said. I have a tendency to let things engulf me. I sometimes don't pay enough attention to her. She sees clergy as an all or nothing gig. If I go the clergy route, she feels that she will lose ground in the entire relationship. If she loses ground, she will leave.

So we talked about how deep I wanted to get into this. I said I wasn't sure. She says she wants warning so she can cut her losses and support me as a friend, not as a girlfriend. She doesn't want to be second in my world, she wants to be first.

I don't begrudge her any of that. I love her, after all, and I don't want to do things rashly that will throw her out of my life. A relationship is about compromise, not about getting your way. It's about talking things out. I have time. I can still do the work I need. I want to do the work, but I won't request a Dedicant Priest ordination yet. I will wait, out of respect for my girlfriend, ADF, and (most of all) myself.


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