[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball

9.23.2004

this week on the postulant

my friend ryan does "rotations." he and his wife, molly, spent a night w/ us last weekend before the vandy game, and we went out for mexican and margaritas over which i queried him about his work. he's becoming a doctor, see, and they appear, to the unititiated, to be furiously rotating about performing various tasks w/ more or less aplomb as they make their way toward the really cool long white lab coat (did you know the different, uh, "degrees" of doctors have different length coats? i didn't know that.).

in many ways, i envy ryan and his contemporaries. it is a priest that i am becoming, and i guess you could say my years of postulancy and candidacy are also rotations, of a sort; but my progression seems somehow to be much more slapdash. chalk it up to being some 1200 miles from my diocese ("out of sight, out of mind"), or maybe it's just the maddeningly protean nature of ordination, but i have to admit that most days i have practically no idea what in the wide, wide world of sports i am doing. those doctor types, they've got "attendings" or "residents" or some other sort of being that hovers on the periphery, probably acting all smug and heavyhanded, mind you, throwing orders like flotsam and jetsam: "lance that." "stick this needle up in there . . . no there." "ever done a hyposcoptric bandypinch manoeuvre on a live patient in an elevated level of distress? well, you won't be able to say that in about 15 minutes, now will you?"

my days and nights, on the other hand, are just a bit less ordered. my diocese gave me a whole laundry list of things they wanted me to get my hands in, then the rector here @ our adopted church of st. peter's graciously agreed to start farming me out to get the experience i need. so one night i'll blunder into a vestry meeting (nb: one does not generally wish to arrive @ one's first vestry meeting 30 minutes late -- it is insulting to the vestry members, and it's also well nigh impossible to figure out what page of the agenda you're on for the next hour and a half), where i sit, quietly, on a hard chair, and think, with a creeping sense of dread: "i'm leaving the legal profession for this? i can't do this, dadgummit!" another night, i'll assist the celebrant @ a mid-week healing service (we never had these @ christ church, so i'm a newbie right out the gate), where i make more liturgical errors than the red sox infield before the nomar trade. the only more dangerous rotation, liturgically speaking, is assisting on a sunday morning, where i sort of float about in my "frock" (i don't know the vestment vernacular yet) screwing up what i'm doing @ any given moment b/c my head's about 8 minutes in the future planning how not to screw up @ that given moment. yes, the helpful comments are made on site and emails appear in my inbox forthwith. one day a committee meeting, the next another committee meeting, and during both i'm a ghost b/c, although i'm in the ordination process, i'm still a baby episcopalian, and most of the other members of my committees have forgotten more about episcopalian church life (and, in particular, the art of the committee) than i'll ever learn.

but i do think i'm learning. and, compared to ryan, i think i run a substantially reduced risk of actually bringing on anaphylactic shock if i mumble a couple of times during the prayers of the people. so i lead my little sunday school class w/ renee' (we're both very excited about how it's going, btw), and i show up w/ food when i'm told hungry mouths will be about; i go visit veterans when i can get away from the office, and i tote a guitar to the college mass on sunday nights. and throughout all this, i'm learning the one thing they can't really teach you in a classroom or by assigning a book: simply loving these people. this is the bride of christ i'm tinkering w/, and they don't seem to resent my being there. they invite us over to their tables to eat, and they say flattering things about ellie's eyelashes (flattery about her will get you everywhere w/ me), and they smile a lot and seem to know my name (i've taken to calling many of them "trevor"). having them around is well worth the stress that comes from not knowing what in the wide, wide worl . . . well, you know. and my attendings or residents or what have you -- they're always around, too, just like @ hospital. and they're so smart. plus, the great physician (i think i saw him, from the back of course, in the copy room just the other day -- i'm sure he's the only other god/man w/ a key to get in there besides the rector) is showing up in unexpected places. it's his hospital, anyway. i just work there. part-time.

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