I really could end this post with that little two-word combination.
Still here. Still in Richmond (or more precisely, northern Chesterfield County). Still searching. Still playing the dating game.
It's hard to know how much movement there has been on any given front. I have a few contacts still in what I shall call the "not dead yet" category, after Lancelot's trusty squire Concord in the Monty Python Holy Grail movie. At the minimum I know I'm still under consideration, or in some cases have been asked for more information. That's something.
In some cases I've been asked for more information or even had an interview via phone or Skype. I can only speculate that in some cases, due to the time that has passed, that I've been passed over. In some cases, perhaps not.
What is a little different from before is that I am doing a good bit of preaching. If you actually read this blog regularly, you (1) are very rare, and (2) have probably noticed those sermons popping up each week. I have actually had the pleasure of preaching pretty consistently out of Romans this summer. Clearly I'm messed up in the head, but it has been a pleasure to follow out a train of thought in my preaching over several weeks, even though in some cases I've had to adapt to the fact that I've preached these sermons in different churches. But I did take that course on Romans back in 2013 (right after surgery...painful thought, that), and I've wanted to follow up on that challenge ever since. One preacher supposedly has said that no preacher should preach on Romans until after age fifty; well, I'm forty-nine, so close enough.
At this point most of the rest of 2014 is booked with supply-preaching engagements. (These engagements do come with the caveat that if I need to go away for an interview/preaching engagement for a potential call they may have to be cancelled.) This is a good thing, for the experience and for the fact that it cuts down on the time I have to brood about the ongoing call search. After all, I am fulfilling a call, or at least part of one. I am preaching the Word, and hopefully getting better at doing so.
What does happen in this in-between space is that I start to think. Think about what this call might yet look like. Nothing that I would call doubt has really crept in at this point. But I have had to engage in a lot of wondering about my capacity for discernment. Do I have it in me to back away from an opportunity that is not really congruent with my call? Do I have the capacity to know when to say "no" if that's what I need to do? Or to say "yes" if my initial reaction isn't necessarily to do so, but the call becomes clear?
How much do I give credence to opportunities that do not come in church-pastor form? I find that I actually miss my work at the Virginia Interfaith Center last year as an intern. Does this mean I should open up a front for searching in faith-based advocacy? Or is my deeply-experienced call in preaching and liturgy still the more compelling and needed call to seek? Sometimes I think too much.
In the meantime there are still other bits of writing to do, for others or for my own interest. There are baseball parks to visit! I managed to make trips to see minor-league games in Durham, NC (Bulls); Salem, VA (Red Sox); Norfolk, VA (Tides); and an indeterminate place in northern Virginia that hosts the Potomac Nationals. I am still willing to seek out my moments of peace even in time of stress.
And of course there is the regular reviewing of the opportunity list, in case any new churches are seeking a minister of some sort. I have expanded my search a bit, as there are now some associate pastor positions that seem truly general in nature, as opposed to thinly-disguised searches for a youth pastor or children's minister. (I am happy to support those ministries to the fullest, but I am not the person you want in charge of them.)
And of course there is the very real possibility that PNCs (pastor nominating committees) actually read this blog. I've known it to have happened at least once. Does that make me more circumspect? Actually, I hope not. At this point in my life I am far too old and experienced to go trying to make myself into something I'm not in order to "get a date" with a church. If that means my search ends up going longer than it would otherwise, well, that's probably for the best, as much as it might add stress to my life right now.
One thing I have definitely realized is that I have not kept music in my life nearly enough. Three weeks ago I went to an evening "musicale" at a church in Richmond. Now it might be just because Shostakovich's Trio No. 2 in E minor was on the program, but I realized that for much of the last year I had been like a starving man who had been refusing to eat. I did have a couple of singing opportunities over this spring that I had not expected, including at Union's baccalaureate service. But still, I just haven't been spending time listening to music, hearing music, especially feeling music on that spine-tingling mind-exploding level that I need. Hence, during this interim time, I'm spending time to try to make up for that somehow. Maybe I'll finally take up that exploration of Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard I've been wanting to do for three or four years. Or something else, I don't know. But for now, I'm dropping this blog entry and going to another concert.
It isn't completely unrelated. Barber was Presbyterian, you know. Sort of.