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Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

I’ve been reading Kathleen Norris’ (wonderful) book The Cloister Walk, about monastic spirituality, as a sort of side piece to all of the work I’ve been doing and to kind of keep me sane as I prepare for ordination and all the rest of the hoopla that is my religious life right now. And one of the things she talks about is the idea that, at least for Benedictine spirituality, formation is endless – the conversion of the self is a process that takes a lifetime.

So I sat down and looked at a typical formation process for someone in the Catholic faith vs what I’ve done, and realized there are some similarities. With apologies for generalizing, as each community really does have its own rules, and because what I’ve done is nowhere NEAR as dedicated as true monastic life, it still struck me that there were things that I could relate to.

My dedicant year was the equivalent of basic religious education – it gave me the tools to get started on the path, and set me up with a spirituality that I could practice satisfactorily for the rest of my life. This only took me a year, but for others it is the work of a lifetime, and that’s more than okay.

The 2 years I spent working CTP-Prelim were my postulancy – where I figured out whether this whole priesting thing was really going to be for me. It was a longer process, but like all processes – like all formation – it takes however long it takes. I did a lot of work, internally and externally, between August 2014 and August 2016, and I don’t want to shy away from that. It involved a lot of confirmation that what I was doing was really the right thing, and set me up with a lot of the spirit relationships that have continued to nourish me through to today.

From August 2016 to March 2018, I was a novice – not yet having taken any formal vows, but having applied and been accepted to my community of faith and living as best I could the life and spirituality of a priest in my community. I did the clergy student discipline, I spoke with mentors who assisted with my formation and my growth. I studied hard, got handed a few massive life-lessons in the process. I served my community in such a way that they could see my building ministry and vocation, and they allowed me to learn and grow.

And now I sit in the liminal space before taking my oaths as a priest – before being vested with the stola of a priest (which is given to me by the folk). I will step into the role of a junior professed, whose path is renewed every year through continuing education. I wonder what this life will look like in a year, or two, or five. Or twenty. I’ve been “in formation” since 2012. In five-odd years, I’ve come an awful long way, but yet there’s still so much that I don’t know. I’m still so new at this.

What will my life-long formation as a polytheist priest look like?

Because I am not done. If anything, the wheels of change in my life are spinning at a rate that is almost dizzying. New doors are opening up for me, with new opportunities to study and practice my spirituality. This is a watershed moment that I am preparing for, yes, but it is only the beginning.

To coin a phrase, this isn’t even my final form.

I wonder what that will look like.

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Recently I’ve noticed a trend of pulling the Iodhadh few in a number of readings. Iodhadh is the ogham for Yew, and can mean a number of things. It’s the “death” few (in the Celtic sense of death and rebirth more than the “you’re gonna die” sense), but it can also stand for the Ancestors.

That’s been the interpretation I’ve felt more often – that I need to be listening to the wisdom of the Ancestors. So yesterday I did a reading specifically to ask them what their guidance was. I lit incense and a candle as offerings, said a small prayer, and asked what wisdom they had for me, what perspective they thought I needed to know.

This was the result:

  • Iodhadh (again) – Yew – Ancestors, Death and Rebirth, Transformation
  • Fern – Alder – Protection, guidance
  • Luis – Rowan – Magical protection, beauty and delight

Persevere in your transformation and allow yourself to be reborn; we will protect and guide you to a place of magic and safety.

Perhaps I should be reading more as “death and rebirth and transformation” then. I suppose that’s pretty clear. (I almost get the feeling of “No, you moron, we mean death and rebirth. Really!”) The Dedicant Path is nothing if not a path of transformation. I’m hesitant to call this a reading that confirms I’m where I’m supposed to be, but internally I feel this was a reassuring sort of reading (as reassuring as it can be to get “Death”). Sort of a “stick with it and we’ll help you” message that is nice to get when you’re in the middle of things.

I also need to make myself some ogham flash cards. I’m still having to look up most of the fews. I know that will get better as I get more used to reading with them, but I could stand to speed up the process!

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