Why would I an Authorized United Church of Christ Pastor in the Central Atlantic Conference share my journey of searching for a pastoral job? One of my army friends asked (respectfully of course), "What's the point?" That question brought me back to the keyboard. I was going to do a blog every other day or maybe a couple times a week but that question is good enough to formally explore in a post.
Some time ago, 2008 in Jalalabad Afghanistan, I had a thought that I still think is valid. The thought is that our stories are sacred. It was a crisp clear morning that offered visions of the Hindu Kush and the Tora Bora Mountain ranges and I was standing outside sipping coffee. A Soldier came up to me and started telling me a story about her life. She was sharing who she was. I remember thinking about Moses and the Burning Bush, and God saying, "Take off your shoes, your on Holy Ground." And then it struck me that a persons story is sacred.
All the trinkets, glitter, glitch, buildings that we build, money we collect, jewels that we wear: all of that, it's just stuff. The story was beyond stuff. The story was a person's life. The story was sacred.
As I traveled around this summer and played a few songs, I also listened to folks tell their stories. Those stories were sacred and as folks shared the sacred details of their lives with me, their stories became part of my story. I began to see that the intricate details of life mattered much more than I had realized at times. It was an honor and a privilege to listen to those stories. And so I listened and I interacted.
Driving around listening to stories, singing songs and getting 48000+ views on Face Book really doesn't mean too much. Or does it? What if the driving around is embracing the fear of the unknown? What if listening to stories actually validates your own story? What if singing songs is the fulfillment of freeing the soul and living life abundantly? What if the 48000+ Face Book views only amount to one real person bearing witness to my journey. I think that the answer to all of the questions is embedded in the concept that LIFE MATTERS.
Not only does life matter but all life has a sacredness to it and thus it should be shared. It seems, that more often than not, it is not privacy that people want but rather someone to see that their life matters. I have talked with a few hundred people who would instantly agree that validation and respect are important. Back when I was an Army Chaplain I did something that was important. I bore witness to the lives of the people I served.
Think about this for a second. The Chaplain has a bunch of education. Most of it centered around the concept of "care." The Chaplain is the "go to" individual when tough times arise in the emotional arena. The Chaplain's job is to care for people. The biggest part of caring is to listen and to explore the sacredness of an individual's story. Then as we are all getting older together is it not the responsibility of the Chaplain to guard the sacredness of the story to which he or she bore witness?
But my bearing witness and protecting the sacredness of those stories may not readily appear to have anything to do with me looking for a church to serve. So, I want to share my story, the search part, the music part, all of it. I want to share it for several reasons. Maybe it will help encourage someone. Maybe someone will see that education doesn't make one person better than another (maybe better at something but not better.) Maybe my struggles were tailor made to help someone. Maybe sharing me is not about me.
I'm rather certain that I am not going to share every detail of this journey of going "Back To Work" but I do want to share the emotional details. I want to share because folks have shared with me (sorta like I love because I have been loved). It seems we live in a society where fear and anger are the hot topics of most FB Posts, the News, idle conversation and the arts. Even I am guilty of this. My music has engaged fear and anger both on a personal and social level. I think that my journey of going "Back To Work" will be a welcome change of pace.
It will be a one-sided blog as I am the one doing the typing. It may take months even years to find a congregation that wants me. And as one of my Chaplain friends pointed out, I will be writing about my needs. I think that the servant who does not consider her or his own needs cannot adequately or efficiently serve anyone. I also have commitments to God and my wife that I need to honor.
And as another Chaplain friend pointed out life, is short. I could drop over dead way before I find a job. I could drop before I post this blog. So why shouldn't I go to work at one of those formal jobs? Playing music and traveling around has been a lot of work, but am I not equipped to do more?
No matter how much I try to escape the religion, especially the formal aspect, it follows me. As I travel around folks, keep calling me Chaplain. Folks keep asking for prayer. I am constantly compelled to read the Scripture and pray. I am drawn to meditation. I constantly see needs and attempt to help people work through those needs. The songs are like mini sermons or maybe some strange cross between a CPE verbatim and a clinical didactic. I can't escape.
I am concerned about our nation. We have folks who are struggling with storm damage (some have lost so much), folks in the hospitals, folks living and dying with cancer, folks addicted to medications, hurting, protesting, shouting, being unkind, etc... But, we also have some great stuff going on, folks loving one another, folks caring for each other, going the extra mile, trying to mend differences and settle disputes, folks looking for the good stuff...
And there are dozens of churches around the country with "ads" posted on The Internet asking for a pastor to come and journey with them. I am of the opinion that I too have a need to journey with others. If they have needs and I have needs why shouldn't I go Back To Work? That calling, anointing and ordaining weren't just terminal events, they were provisional events preparing and equipping me for action.
Can I think of a thousand reasons why I am not good enough, You bet I can. I can think of reasons not to share any of this. But, the point is... I am not alone and my journey isn't just about me.
Thanks for caring,