I am in my third day here at St. Timothy, and the past three mornings have started the same way:
1. Wake up early, feeling unusually tired.
2. Wake up Matt, negotiate shower order, feed the cat, do the morning email check, brush teeth, etc.
3. Take Matt to the train, grumbling about the long stoplights along 53 that cause traffic back-ups.
4. Continue toward church.
Today, inserted between 3 and 4, were a Starbucks run and an hour spent getting my oil changed and trying to figure out what exactly is causing my "Service Engine Soon" light to turn on. My lovely, old, red, 114000 mile car is starting to show signs of the beginning of the end. Sigh. As if we have any extra money sitting around to begin to think about buying a new car in the event that this one dies soon. I really do believe that things aren't yet dire for my car, and that it is just settling into the creaks and quirks of old age.
Going to Starbucks felt normal, routine-like, patterned (albeit at a new location). Getting my oil changed felt routine, settled, annoying (again, albeit at a new location). It's funny to me that these random destinations have helped me feel settled more than anything else yet. We're done moving, though far from done unpacking. And while the couch is the same, and the bed is still our bed, and the pots and pans are the same ones I've been using for years, they all yet seem unfamiliar in our new place. Moving is funny like that. You arrange the furniture differently, you arrange your closets and cabinets and shelves differently, you open a new refrigerator and cook on a different stove, and all of the sudden, your familiar objects and routines seem totally new. The newness is refreshing, or at least it was for the first few days of moving. But now the newness is moving into awkward and frustrating territory. I'm craving routine, craving a sense of home, craving an apartment devoid of boxes.
I'm amazed at how quickly my first few days here at St. Timothy have gone. They have been a combination of unpacking/organizing my office, getting set up on my work computer, a few meetings here and there, and working on a Pentecost sermon for this weekend. Settling into a first call (or any subsequent call, I'm sure) feels much like beginning any other job. You work to claim and organize your own space, and then have to muster up patience for the gradual processes of meeting people, acquiring tasks, and integrating into the life of the system. And, to be honest, when you are in the midst of alphabetizing your books on their shelves, it's strange to try to remind yourself that you have been called to this. Throughout the candidacy process, you speak of call and vocation in extraordinarily sacred terms. Articulating a sense of call means articulating what you believe about God, and articulating in vulnerable, spiritual terms exactly what God has done to lead you into this vocation. The trick is to connect all of that to the daily ins and outs of parish life, especially in the first weeks, when you are doing less "pastor-stuff," and more "office-stuff."
I'm trying to think back to the beginning of my internship, and the initial weeks that were spent doing set-up sorts of tasks, whether it be organizing my desk or meeting the church council or learning the particulars of the liturgy. I am impatient here; I wish that I could fast-forward a few months, to a place where I know people, and where I am integrated into the life of the congregation, and where I am in the process of growing into my pastoral identity.
I am also trying to wrap my brain around the fact that this is the first (potentially) permanent job I will have held. Whether or not this is the place where I carry out the whole, or even the bulk, of my ministry, it is jarring to think that this could be a place that I stay for a number of years. It has been ten years since I've lived with any sense of permanence, and I haven't yet figured out if this new potential for permanence comforts me or frightens me. My guess is that I will eventually stop overthinking it, and it will simply become a non-issue.
I have to admit that this whole transition (moving, starting a call, starting a first call, etc.) is harder than I had expected it to be, and yet it is a wonderfully happy time. There is so much potential, and I have a sense of vindication, finally beginning the vocation that I have spent so many years preparing for. I expect that my overall feelings of disconnect will subside as the apartment gets unpacked, as we figure out my responsibilities here, and especially when my ordination (finally) takes place - July 19th!
But for today, I will finish my now-cold cup of coffee, go to a meeting or two, continue to work on my Pentecost sermon, and gear up to unpack and organize the linen closet when I get home tonight. Settling in, bit by bit...