It’s the second night of the seminary’s Phonathon for the annual fund, and I sit munching on a veggie sub and potato chips as I listen to directions to callers. Suddenly, the anxiety of what I am about to do strikes deep within my heart: I am expected to ask people for money. The nerves continue to build to the point of no return. I don’t like asking people for money. In fact, I hate it. It goes against every fiber of my being as a born and bred Southerner schooled in the lessons of never asking others for money. I swallow hard as I continue to mask the desire to engage in the only response to anxiety that feels right at that moment: Run. Don’t look back. Just….RUN.
Suddenly, a whisper says ever so faintly “Just go talk to people. See what you can learn from them and their experiences while in seminary or since they left seminary. Go talk to them. Listen to them. Learn from them.” In a flash, the anxiety that had been building to a fever pitch melted into the abyss as we walked up the hill to the telephones. We were not going to ask people for money. We were going to talk to them. We were going to learn from them. We were going to continue the tradition of living into community by sharing experiences of the seminary and of the world beyond seminary.
So, what did I learn? I learned about an alumna who is currently working with a small group of parishioners in order to maintain the traditions of The Episcopal Church in the face of deep divisions in their diocese. Through her story, I learned that moments of healing continue to happen everyday out in the world – and yes, in the Church too. I learned that the moments of transformation in our lives cannot be overlooked or ignored easily. The times leading up to that moment may be hard, but hopefully, we find ourselves praying the same prayer that Jesus prays in the garden, “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” When we surrender our will to that of God, we may just find that God works in and through us in ways that we could never imagine, and we get the opportunity to share God’s love with our sisters and brothers in Christ – even during a Phonathon when you just might be expected to ask a few folks for money.