We have 2 signs on our door asking people not to put junk mail through our letterbox. One is from Lewisham Council and is on the letterbox. The other is in French, from our Geneva days, and is on our door. I hear the familiar sound of a flyer being stuffed through our letterbox and […]
They say you can’t choose your family. They’re wrong. What is a collaborative creative process but a small family working towards a common goal? At the front end there’s mom or dad, and… Read More →
Boy: Daddy, what’s that hole for? (Points at largest hole in fence) Daddy: I don’t know. Boy: oh. (Boy and Daddy walk on and out of sight.) Since we pass this hole on our way to nursery, I think I’d better learn what that hole is for before my son learns to ask questions.
Tonight, someone from our home went out running and it wasn’t me.
I. Couldn’t. Quite. Do. It. All I had to do was exercise each day and blog about it, within 24 hours, for just one month. Sound easy? You would think. But I couldnt do it. The Janathon organisers suggest that the writing is the hardest part. They’re partially right. When push came to shove, I […]
[This semester, I am taking a class called Vocational Discernment for a Sustained Life of Ministry. Our first assignment was to write a creative conversation in which we discuss our call to ministry with another person. This is my paper.]
I have been going on a lot of dates lately and inevitably at some point during the date, the conversation turns to how I am in seminary and that I am a Quaker. Here is an only slightly exaggerated version of how those conversations go.
DATE: So, you’re in seminary. Does that mean you want to be a minister?
ME: Actually, I already am a minister. I was recorded as a minister by my Quaker meeting last June.
DATE: Recorded? What does that mean?
ME: Quakers do not have ordination―we believe that only God can ordain ministers. Instead, Friends observe and record the gifts of ministry. My meeting observed my gifts of minister over several years, then I went through a recording process, and the meeting recorded me as a minister in a special business meeting.
DATE: I don’t really know much about Quakers. How are they different from other denominations?
ME: Quakers believe that everyone has direct access to God. Instead of looking outside ourselves for guidance, we turn to the inward Christ, or the light of God that we believe is inside of each of us to guide us.
DATE: If we all have God inside of us, why do Quakers need to get together in groups? Can’t you just turn inward?
ME: A couple reasons. One is that we are not always good at discerning what is coming from God and what is coming from us. Our Quaker meetings help us to tell the difference. Also, we believe that God can speak to us through anyone, so during our meetings, we wait in silence to see if anyone will feel led by God to speak.
DATE: Wait, do you hear God talking to you?
ME: Yes, I believe I do. I hear God in the things that other people say to me, and in the things they do without speaking. I also hear God in messages in meeting, and in nudges that I feel throughout the day to do or not do something, or to hold someone in prayer.
DATE: But have you ever heard God speak to you directly, with words?
ME: Yes. That doesn’t happen very often, but I have experienced it.
DATE: Can you tell me about a time when it happened?
ME: A good example is the story that I consider my call to ministry.
It was in 2008, at the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conference. I enjoyed the conference very much, but by the end of it, I felt exhausted and very ready to go home. I had agreed to be co-clerk of the planning committee for the next conference, and I was feeling overwhelmed because I had never done anything like that before.
I was sitting in our final worship for the conference when I heard God say to me, “It’s not always going to be this easy.”
I said, “What?” Of all the words I could think of to describe my experience at the conference, “easy” was not one of them.
God responded, “Yes, this is the easy part. It is going to be a lot harder after this. But I will be there too.”
DATE: Wow. That sounds intense.
ME: It was.
DATE: Has it been hard?
ME: Yes, sometimes ministry has been very hard. I tend to resist God―mostly out of fear―making it harder for myself. But I have always had the sense that God is with me.
DATE: I get the sense that for you, ministry means something different from being a pastor of a church. Is that right?
ME: Being a pastor is one form of ministry, but I do not feel called to pastoral ministry right now. My ministry has taken lots of forms: I have done traveling ministry among different branches of Friends, I lead workshops and preach, and I do quite a bit of writing. I try to stay open to what I feel God is calling me to do.
DATE: But what about seminary? Why go to seminary if you are already a minister?
ME: One reason is that I carry a concern for supporting leaders in the Religious Society of Friends. We don’t always do a good job of supporting leaders, and I wanted to go to a school that was clear in its support of leadership and bring what I learned there back to my denomination.
I was also hoping that seminary would help me learn how to have a sustained life of ministry. Burnout is far too common, and I would like to be able to do this for as long as I feel God is calling me.
DATE: I know that you are also a lawyer. Are you planning to continue practicing law?
ME: I am doing some legal work while I am in seminary to help pay the bills, but I am hoping to transition to full-time ministry over the next few years.
DATE: And you’re from Alaska? Are you planning on going back there after you finish seminary? Or back to Oregon?
ME: Probably not. I love the Pacific Northwest, but I will probably go wherever I find a job.
DATE: It sounds like you are going through a lot of changes in your life right now!
ME: Indeed. How about you? Let’s talk about you for a while!
D and I ran for 26 minutes and 42 seconds. The usual story – up to Victoria park and then one lap. It was D’s fastest timed run so far. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can replicate my form at parkrun on Saturday. Can’t write more – my book is unputdownable.
Today we did jobs, Junior and I. Visited the launderette, pruned the hedge, refilled the birdfeeder, did some online retail therapy (secateurs, bath mat, doormat, that sort of thing). Every day Junior learns new words. Every day, Junior has to label the things he sees. The route to the park is a slow one, though […]
Long form improvisation has returned to my life with vengeance. It was 2007 when I was last immersed in it. But now White Pines has formed its own ensemble. I’m in it. Jenn… Read More →
On the way back from nursery we danced in the street to the sounds of music coming from a car. We crossed a zebra crossing in front of this car, which was stuck in traffic. When the driver noticed us 3 dancing (as badly as we could for 2 of us) he turned his music […]
We hocked it over to Surrey Quays City Farm on Saturday. It’s a great place to go for a family outing. Junior crowed back after a cockerel cock-a-doodle-dooed. He oinked at the pigs too. We bleated with the goats and watched the ducks. Junior liked the geese especially, but we tried to keep him apart […]
Oh my, Elizabeth Fry! Today, I really didn’t fancy running. I put my clothes out last night and my beloved put them away thinking I wasn’t running until Tuesday. I got to work and my running colleague, D, said she’ll run tomorrow instead of today. At least she went out running on Saturday, so she’s […]
We have this park near us with a fabulous view of London. Every time I take Junior up there I show him the panoramic view from the city in the east to battersea power station in the southwest. At new years eve and fireworks nights hundreds of people gather here. In the summer people gather […]
Today was a Jessye day. You know the ones, you probably have another name for it, or maybe you don’t call it anything. They’re the days when you do nothing for the whole day, but you do lots of small things. It’s usually a day of rest, of respite and refreshment. A day for getting […]
They say that’s it’s good to have a bedtime routine for your baby. A bath, a story and a drink of milk all feature in the various books and websites I’ve seen. Our bedtime routine has all of these things. But I think we might be unique in the world to have included laughing with […]
I love a good fish and chips meal. And I’m blessed that in Brockley we have a great fish and chips takeaway. The fish is always cooked to order so it’s worth phoning your order in before you set off. As well as fried fish they sell grilled fish, fish cakes and calamari. It took […]
Over at Hilly Fields park run, there was a new race director today. Glenn is head of PE at a local school and is involved in the Run Dem Crew running club. First up, the course was changed from the usual. A good decision, as we have one section that has recently been a bog […]
I’ve walked 4,905 steps today, according to the moves app. How accurate this is, I don’t know for sure. Thanks to having the app I know now that from office doorstep to station platform is 1,455 steps. And the day I counted every one of my steps to discover this, the app added around 1,100 […]
We ran in two pairs. One colleague needed to go early; I didn’t fancy it. Then another realised she had forgotten her trainers. A deal was done, an arrangement made. Two running pairs, three pairs of trainers. I felt blessed by the quality of conversation. We ran hard for 2 miles, then slowed. We talked […]
We went to visit a friend today, the boy and me. Up at Willesden Junction. We took the footbridge to Hythe Road. My friend swears she once saw 23 trainspotters on that bridge all at once. Today, there were just two. Me and the boy. And he was asleep and I was halfway there. Still, […]