It is always in these times of transition in my physical life that I seem to think the most about the continuing transformations in my spiritual life. My life is, has been, and probably always will be a bit nomadic. At first, it was following my father around from assignment to assignment. Then, I joined the military myself and spent years living out of barracks rooms and the back of my truck. After the military, I went to work as a special events manager, and wandered from city to city, from hotel to hotel.
Now, I seem to be continuing that nomadic tradition, following around the many different aspects of a theological education… though it has been more traveling than outright moving, thank goodness. Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida have all played a part in my ministerial formation these past few years.
I’m pondering this as I am tying up loose ends and packing for a two week trip to attend the Combat Medical Ministry Course at Ft. Sam Houston, right outside San Antonio, for which I leave tomorrow morning. It is a course designed to take what I learned about ministry, and about myself, in Clinical Pastoral Education (Hospital Chaplaincy Internship) and apply it to ministry in a Combat Surgical Hospital. I’m really looking forward to the class, and to putting the uniform back on again.
On the way, I am planning on dropping by a few places that have meant a lot to me on the inward spiritual journey that led to this call to ministry. A certain town in Arkansas, where I and my wife spent a frightened evening in the midst of the evacuation before Hurricane Rita… A church where I ran a shelter during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina… The church in Galveston that helped me to hear my call to ministry.
Each of those places marks a transition point for me, a place where my inner spiritual journey shifted, took a turn, or paused and took stock of itself. Going back to those places, I am able to re-connect, just for a moment, with the person I was in that moment, and to see the differences.
I know that one day, several years from now, I will again step into the sanctuary of my internship church and have another of those moments. For now, I have not yet accepted emotionally that my internship is over. Probably will take a few more days.
What occurs to me is that most of my life, and much of my faith, is built around the ideas of transition and transformation. Transition is what occurs on the outside, transformation is what should be occurring on the inside. It is from individual transformation that we create global transformation.
The idea of a faith built around transition and transformation seems to me to be the opposite of fundamentalism, in which I seem to intentionally want to live, not on the rock, but on the shifting sands.
Perhaps that is why I have always thought of my faith as a tent and not as a house. Not as something immovable I am tied to, but as the shelter that can go with me, wherever I am called. A tent does not sink on the sands.
Yours in Faith,