The Regift

June marks my last month as a contributing editor to Fidelia's Sisters. I wanted to commemorate the occasion by writing the last essay myself, a bookend
to my first entry for "Called & Sent". The complicating factor is that I am in the middle of relocating from Southern California to suburban
Chicago. Literally. As I type this (clumsily, with one finger on my
iPod Touch), I'm in a jetplane somewhere over Utah. I can't make any
promises that this will be the most eloquent column to ever grace the
RSS feed of Fidelia's Sisters, but so long as I accomplish my one
simple goal of gushing about the unmitigated wonderfulness that is The
Young Clergy Women Project, my airsickness will not be for naught.

If you had told me three years ago that I would go to great lengths
(or should that be heights?) for TYCWP, I would have been bemused. You
want to know why I volunteered to be a charter board member? Because I
wanted the free airfare to Washington DC. The board was set to meet
immediately following our first preaching conference at the cathedral
college, and travel expenses were a perk I couldn't pass up. I
couldn't have foreseen just how deeply I would connect with the
friends I would meet that week, or how invested I would become in the
magazine the contributing editors spun together out of nothing more
than Post-It notes and thin, er… HUMID air. I never could have
imagined that our fledgling organization would be invited to
collaborate with a fantastic publishing house, and that I'd end up
with a book contract (for the record, I don't advocate writing a book
and moving across the country in the same calendar year, unless of
course you don't fancy your sleep or your sanity).

Now, as my family lands in an unfamiliar city, I'm arriving with a
built-in network of young clergy women colleagues. I've had plans for
Friday with my friend and fellow outgoing editor Erica Schemper for
months. Another Project member who serves a church in the next town
over not only accepted my random Facebook friend request, but even
offered to help out with our move. I'm looking forward to finally
meeting area bloggers I've "known" for years.

But the gift I'm most grateful to have received from my participation
in TYCWP is more of a regift. Somewhere along the line, I'd misplaced
my sense of vocation. The Young Clergy Women Project found it by the
side of the road, washed it off with prayer, wrapped it up in laughter
and grace, and gave it back to me. And even that profound gift
ultimately comes back to the relationships. Again and again, whether
I'm getting weepy over Called and Sent submissions, out for a rare
cup of coffee, or simply chattering on Facebook, whenever I interact
with my clergy sisters, I'm filled with the conviction that these are
my people. And if I blend seamlessly into a gaggle
of preacher girls… as they say, if the Dansko fits, wear it.

It all adds up, after all. I first started overhearing a whisper of a
call to the ministry when I noticed a pattern: some of my favorite
people were pastors. Those early mentors attuned my ears to the voice
of God; the beloved community of TYCWP continues the favor.

I was called and sent to the ministry of Fidelia's Sisters as surely
as I was called and sent to serve that lovely little church in Redondo
Beach for the last five years. And now, as I journey toward a
different future, I have one more thing to add before the flight
attendant makes me switch off my electronic device to prepare for
landing: thank you, thank you, thank you.

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