To be less than two weeks away from "GEE - the idea of heading off to seminary is BIG" - I know this will sound strange to some... but I'm finding myself asking, "Uh - OK. What's next?? Let's get on with it." What's odd is that I'm still apprehensive. But in that apprehension, I'm ready. Not in a "OK - hurry up - let's get it over with" way. Not like I am at the doctor's office when its time for a shot, in other words. But, more like, "OK - let's get going" - like a road trip to the other side of the planet, when you're excited about the trip, even if you're feeling a little apprehension at the length of the drive.
(Sometimes I wonder if my attempts at metaphor are counterproductive. *shrug* Oh well.)
This past weekend, I completed my first official "assignment" from the diocese since being accepted as a seminarian. I attended VIRTUS training. This is child sexual abuse awareness training that's offered to all those who work in and around the parishes of our Diocese. (It's a national program, really - that our Diocese uses as well.) It's a striking sign of the extent of the damage sexual abuse in the church has caused that this would be my first assignment. But for me, its also a positive sign of the steps the church is taking to heal that damage. Raising awareness of the issue, openly discussing how we can protect our children, and "raising the bar" in some areas to avoid where possible even the appearance of inappropriate situations - that's a step in the right direction.
My personal belief is that whatever we can do to protect children, restore confidence, and heal wounds is what the church truly owes those who've been harmed. Apologies and financial reparations are one thing. But wisdom teaches us that what we really owe those who've been harmed is an amend, a change, all the effort at our disposal to prevent the same thing happening again. And this is what the church owes itself, too.
Anyway...about 4 hours after that training was over, I began to ask, "OK - what's next?" I take this as a good sign. I'm ready. I don't have doubts today about what I'll be doing come August. Apprehension - yes. Some fear of the unknown - yes. Discomfort - uh, YES!! (Breaking out of the comfort zone is something that's never any fun.) But, I don't have any doubts. And, there's a big part of me that's ready to get on with it.
But - I need to take a step back and say, "Patience. Wait. Trust. Follow." My Way is always to grab the reins, and head after "it" (whatever it is) the way I think is best. God's Way is often to invite us to hand HIM the reins, and follow that lead. Practicing God's Way is sometimes difficult - and always different. But that's what I sense that I really need to do with this.
And so, for today, "What's Next" should probably be limited to:
* Continuing to Focus on my prayer life.
* Watching, Waiting, Listening.
* See #1 Above.
After all, this has got to be about my relationship with God above all else. Every step. Following His lead, His call. If it becomes only about what I want, the way I want to do it - well, then I've missed the mark. Gee - that's gonna' take a lot of practice. Yeah - that's REALLY "what's next" ... practicing the action of following.