A week ago I was driving over Togwotee Pass on my way home from St. John's Episcopal Church where Mary Erickson was ordained to the priesthood. I spent the day in tears of joy with Mary, but while driving over the pass I found myself crying as I think ahead to ordination. I was in a construction zone and couldn't pull over so I blubbered along for several miles. It is still puzzling why thinking about ordination makes me cry, but today I figured something out that links my summer as chaplain at camp with my future as a priest.
The activities at Wyoming Wilderness Camp are Challenge by Choice. The challenge holds the promise that I may be able to complete the challenge - but if I can't, there is still a promise of learning something new. It seems to me that it kind of translates to a possibility of failure, but we don't usually mention that to campers.
During staff week, I was offered a challenge to cross the rungs of a "ladder" made from sticks held by camp staff. To accept, I had to say out loud, "I, Kay, accept this challenge."
I said it, and then I entered the challenge. I had a hard time getting up on the rungs, but the staff helped me there. They supported me, reminded me to watch my head, and let me balance by touching their heads. I walked across the ladder successfully. They celebrated with me!
So here is what I figured out. There is an expectation from my community at St. Stephen's that I have the ability to be a priest. I expect that my community will support me and celebrate with me. Sure, there is the possibility that we might fail, but if we do, there will be learning for all.
So I think that my next step is to say out loud, in front of a congregation, a bishop, and some presbyters, "I, Kay, accept this challenge of being a priest." And then the congregation will respond, "We accept the challenge too." And then we have to do it.
Now I am crying again but it is different somehow. September 29 at 6:30 PM at St. Stephen's in Casper - you are invited!