As August winds to a close, the RevGalBlogPals are sponsoring a #RallyRevGals Blogging Contest. The challenge is to write about a woman who has been a positive influence on my ministry (whether or not she is/was a pastor). You can read more about it here…
I thought of several women. Pastors, teachers, counselors, mothers, sisters, friends… and I won’t get to blogging about all of them. But when I think vocationally about who has inspired me and helped me take that first formational step into ministry, I first thought of Ruth.
Ruth is an Episcopal Priest. In addition to her seminary training, she has a PhD in education. She has worked in parish and education settings. She mentors, prays, and encourages. She brings a quiet authority to her preaching of the Word.
I first met Ruth through my husband and other friends who knew her from Contemplative Prayer practices. She provided a gentle grounding for the group. She is well-read, an author and a congenial friend. Many times around our table we would sit and laugh and talk for hours.
When I was in the process of discernment about seminary, Ruth was one of the people I turned to for counsel. We would sit together and talk about the challenges of vocational ministry, particularly for women. Though she is someone who has never married, her counsel to me, a wife and mother, was simple: “Ask. Listen. Allow God to show you.” And it worked.
Another aspect of Ruth’s influence on my life was to help me unpack what it meant to be “female” and “feminist” and “pastor.” The three were not at odds with one another, and they were not irreconcilable either! She invited me to allow things to be held in tension, to NOT solve the impossible, and to learn how to sit with the unanswerable. She provided me with this example as she ministered during the fracturing of The Episcopal Church. We laughed at one image of being calm in the midst of a crisis, like a duck floating on the surface of a lake, but paddling furiously underneath!
It was a perfect groundwork for the Calling of a chaplain.
Our paths do not cross as often these days. In fact, it’s been so long that I don’t have a current picture of us to put with this blog post! Thanks to the traffic and craziness of the Beltway, it would be well over an hour to get together. However, we use that old-fashioned method called “letters” to stay in touch. She remains, even by letter, an inspiration to me. I continue to be thankful for her and to pray continued blessing on the work God calls her to do.
The next time we’re in touch, I’ll tell her, “I blogged about you.” And she will probably laugh and say, “you’re KIDDING!!”
No, I’m not kidding, Ruth. You’re an inspiration to me. Thanks be to God for you.