The Quixotic Pastor

Monday, November 06, 2006

Never made it to the jacuzzi ...

... but I spent a lot of time at our regional conference on the mourners bench contemplating cliff diving.

I was remembering that, when I was a little girl, I used to watch ABC's Wide World of Sports almost every Saturday without fail. Ever so often, before the sport was outlawed, the show featured cliff divers in [I think] Acapulco-- it must have been the original Xtreme sport. At any rate, there were two tricks to avoid death. First, one must carefully time the dive to coincide with the tide flowing in instead of ebbing out, because the water became deeper. Second, one had to dive far enough away from the cliff face in order to avoid crashing into the rocks below. I remember how every diver, before mounting the precipice, would kneel and meditate before a shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary [Our Lady of Guadalupe?] for quite a long time in order to center, focus and prepare ...

Cliff diving is a metaphor of faith and ministry for me --it is how I describe that feeling of mingled fear, anxiety, elation and anticipation when I feel called by God to do something new, risky and possibly dangerous. The last time I felt something like this was when I marched into my district superintendent's office, told him that I was a lesbian and that I intended to resign my credentials as United Methodist clergy --all of this without knowing anything about the GLBT community or what I would begin to do for a living. That was a truly scary time of transition!

Which brings me to the mourners bench. During several of the worship services and a couple of the workshops, I experienced a profound conviction of some of my "professional" sins, some ministry issues I must address. I also experienced healing and grace in the sense that I have a pretty clear vision of what to do next in my churches. Essentially, I am going to be drawing some new boundaries and issuing some new challenges to some of my congregants to get off their butts and get busy because I am not the only minister in the congregation. So I will be starting by defining who I think a pastor is and what a pastor's ministry ought to look like and what some of my new ministry priorities are. Along the way, I will acknowledge some mistakes I have made. Next, I will remind them that they are disciples of Christ and, as such, have their own ministerial responsibilities. I will be saying things that some of them will not want to hear, things will be tense for awhile, and some of them might just leave. The worst thing would be if nothing changed ... which would feel like a failure to me.

Then, I am planning to devote Advent worship to preparing us spiritually for our ministry together in the coming year. I have a feeling that I will continue off lectionary until Christmas Eve ...

More later. It's my bed time ... and either DH or Angel Dog is snoring already and I'd like to join them. We're getting up bright and early tomorrow to go vote at 7 am when the polls open --let the revolution begin!


  • At 4:23 PM , Blogger Rainbow Pastor said...

    You go, Rev Dona!

    I'm planning some changes, too. Those cliff divers didn't hold hands with someone else and jump, did they?

  • At 6:56 AM , Blogger Reverend Dona Quixote said...

    Hi RP!

    Cliff divers don't ... but skydivers do. In fact, recently a world record was set by a multitude of skydivers who jumped together in a very difficult formation called a diamond. They had to safely form the shape, then safely disengage.

    It was a rainbow colored diamond shape if memory serves me ... hmmmm, a sign?

    look here

    As far as a ministry metaphor goes for actually making a leap of faith, I don't see much difference between cliff diving and skydiving. And skydiving as a metaphor allows for community, which I desperately need in spite of myself.

    By all means, let's join hands and jump into a hopeful future!

  • At 5:50 PM , Blogger LutheranChik said...

    Your imminent adventure in convincing the priesthood of all believers that that is in fact what they are;-) sounds exciting!

    I'm still trying to work out how my own recent retreat experience changed me. I felt much more affirmed at this last one than I did at the other fall retreat. And I had an affirming chat with my pastor (his attitude toward my lay ministry vocation has always been "You go, girl!" and assurances that he's watching my back) which also helped my attitude considerably.


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