I tend to have been a go big or go home type of gal throughout my life. A lot of people call me a Rocket Scientist. I humbly refer to my advanced degree in Space Studies and recall that only a few of the classes covered rocket science. Still a lot of people never go that far, so I understand the confusion. I’m also a leader technologically and so digitally native that even in discernment I naturally turned to a keyboard rather than a pen. It has been a long time since I not been an expert, or at least well on my way to becoming one.
So here I am, discerning for the vocational diaconate and my vocabulary is atrocious. I was a cradle Episcopalian whose parents ranged from non-practising to atheist to agnostic to devout (separately and only 1 in the Episcopal church) with the ebb and flow of time. In young adulthood I dabbled in Catholic, Presbyterian and non-denominational worship houses.I was however most at home with the Episcopalians. After my own adult confirmation as an Episcopalian, my husband’s preferences were sorely tested as he attempted to be at worship with me. Eventually we went to a Free Methodist church as a compromise for several years. We returned to our local Episcopal parish after he had stopped attending and I found that I needed my church home. So if I was going to go alone, I might as well follow my heart. Eventually my husband and children followed and we are safely home.
While drawn to the worship I was admittedly unschooled. My confirmation classes were more bible study (a good thing) and less how to be an Episcopalian. My own son, now 16 went through confirmation classes this winter and spring, and I found that while I knew the basic theologies, I didn’t know the basic vocabulary. I’ve had a lot of latin, and I’m a quick study, but I find I am also wholly inept in this pursuit. I find myself communicating almost as I did when I was first learning Latvian 24 years ago. Stumbling over words which I try to explain with baby steps. I remember “zirgu čībiņas” being the words I tried to use to describe a common horse shoe. This however means “horsey slippers” and lead to all manner of laughter from my Latvian friends.
My ability to talk about this calling to become a deacon has been a nightmare to talk about with my inexpert tongue unable to form the words as I mean them. I had started calling the process of discernment, when discussing with my husband, “the deacon thing.” I knew it was zirgu čībiņas all over again, but I had a heck of a time causing my brain to call it by its rightful name.
A few weeks back when my priest arranged for me to visit the Bishop of our Diocese, good gravy was I out of my league in that conversation. And quite rightly Bishop Dan called me on it and immediately prescribed a course of study in the form of a book, Christian Proficiency by Martin Thornton. It’s out of print, so I’ve found a used copy on amazon and it has recently arrived. It’s essentially a book about how to be a grown up mature Episcopalian rather than talking like the toddler I feel like. So I’m off to my vocabulary lessons. Prayers for understanding always appreciated.