Lessons from the Wilderness

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year.
A year away from full time ministry
A year away from a full time profession.
A year.

I’ve heard stories.
I’ve read stories.
Stories of abundance growing from a mustard seed.
Stories of finding treasures in trash.
Stories of oasis in the desert.

I have never lived that story.

I have lived the story of life growing from death.
Beauty emerging from destruction.
Phoenix rising from ash.

As redemptive as these stories were, I always felt I need to strive to achieve them. To offer my blood, sweat, and tears to earn them.

This year I have lived a different story.

Almost a year in the wilderness, I believe my life is more full, more whole, more abundant than I ever dreamed possible. I have heard these stories. And I have read them. But the cynic in me thought they were just that. Stories.

Today I find myself at the crossroads of paradox. And I don’t know quite what to make of it. I have survived in the wilderness by working in the secular world and ministering on the margins. I have to say this year has opened me to the joy and challenge of tent-making ministry. A year that has challenged by assumptions and sureness. A year that invites me to continue to listen for the Holy.

There has been so much in this year. So much I still need to wrestle with before I can claim my new name. In the same breath, one of the lessons I have learned is that writing my wrestling–putting it out there–is part of the process of living into life. Part of the reality of incarnating a world that might only live in my head. So here is a very rough and raw list of my current wrestling:

• My secular job is currently in the fastener industry. This field is known to be masculine and “red neck.” Both of these stereotypes I have seen to be true. At the same time, from an “employee” perspective, I have been better treated in this position than in either of my paid ministry positions. I have also witnessed similar treatment of other employees.
• I recently officiated a funeral at a church that has proudly left the United Church of Christ. We sang from the red E&R Hymnal, and the desire was to spend a lot of time looking back and staring at a golden past that I’m not sure ever really existed. This community seeks a spiritual leader and invited me to return. Inside myself, I want to run in the opposite direction.
• In the same week I officiated the wedding of a couple that is deeply spiritual. Both were raised in the church and currently do not have a church home. The guests at the wedding were ethnically, socio-economically, and religiously more diverse than the community I studied with in seminary. I experienced “church” and “worship” celebrating their wedding. This “spiritual but not religious” couple has both a community and a devoted sense of justice.

Honestly, I don’t know what to make of the above bullets. I have been anti-industry for so long, I don’t remember a time I was pro-industry. I have wrestled with the institution of church for a long time. But at the end of the day, I have been an advocate. I serve. I show up. I speak. I affirm that we are both spiritual and religious. I believe in the need for community. Accountability. Generational Wisdom. And yet somehow, I feel called to step out beyond the great beyond. A call to venture into a land unknown and uncharted. As much as I hate to write these words, I feel a call to be a voice in the wilderness.

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6 thoughts on “Lessons from the Wilderness

  1. I love reading your blog, Megan, and learning about your journey. It takes guts to walk away and guts to come back..and guts to be honest about your own doubts. Makes me feel a little better about my own. 🙂

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    • Thanks Pam. Writing has been one of my ways of making “sense” of my world for some time…a few folks closest to me suggested taking the risk of “putting it out there.” I am glad to know you appreciate it.

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    • Thank you Luke. I am actually getting ready to launch a web site and am starting a monthly gathering at F&M this fall. Who knows where the Spirit will lead? But I have absolutely said yes to the journey.

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  2. Hi Megan — Thanks for helping to make Aunt Sue’s funeral truly a celebration of her life. I enjoyed talking with you afterwards and look forward to following your blog posts. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and introspection.

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    • Sara,
      Thank you. It was such an honor to walk with your Aunt Sue and cousin, Susan over the last two weeks. I also truly enjoyed getting to meet her family and hear more stories. Hoping our paths cross again.

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