Stranded: Powerlessness, Discovery, and a Pilgrim’s heart

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March 2015

2015-03 stranded-dean pompaIt’s my honor to serve as a member of the board of trustees of the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest. This service helps me fulfill my ordination vow to serve the broader Church; it keeps me connected to the growing complexity and challenges of the Church as we prepare and form leadership for a changing future. Personally, it allows me to “give back” a bit of my own time, talent, and small treasure to an institution whose mission had an enormous impact on my own formation. It is however, far away, and a simple board meeting in February planned to be a three day quick turnaround grew into an almost six day (and counting) exile due to weather and flight cancellations.

There is nothing that cuts quicker to one’s temperature on their spiritual life then being vulnerable, isolated, and without power. Once again, I have learned that I am powerless over much. Weather, airline inflexibility to the consumer, has rendered me powerless despite my greatest desire to return to my home, my work, my life. Yes, frustration is my companion, yes, a sense of dislocation abides. Yes, I even have an irrational fear that I WILL NEVER get home, oh my. It could be that I could indeed choose to live in this powerlessness and allow fear, frustration and bitterness have the day OR perhaps, I could put on the pilgrim’s heart and be open to whatever grace may come my way in this time in the desert.

Lent is upon us and the story that leads is the one of Jesus being driven into the wilderness just after his baptism and God’s proclamation of his identity. Into the desert Jesus goes to discover his true self in the midst of powerlessness, frustration, and I believe in his humanity, even irrational fears. I believe also what we discover in this story as I am discovering now in my own unchosen exile here is the Grace that is discovered in such times. For me, a Sunday worship experience in the parish that formed me as a seminarian reminded me of who I am in Christ Jesus—loved, beloved, empowered and sent to be passionate about loving, about justice, about inclusion, about acceptance of the other-a reminder and a challenge.

Let us take this Lenten journey together again. Let us journey right into the wilderness where we examine our powerlessness, our vulnerability, our irrational fears. Let us find Christ right there in that wilderness and draw closer to him, his hopes, his dreams, his love, his empowerment. Then let us get on with our sending and witness to God’s love and justice by who we are, what we say, and what we do.

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