Wednesday, August 17, 2005

What Does This Mean?

Our lay ministry program, on hiatus for the summer, is starting up again at the end of September, with a "working retreat" downstate. In November one of our visiting professors, who has an interest and expertise in Islam, will be facilitating a special, overnight short course on Islam for current students and program graduates at a conference center "up north"; shortly thereafter we're having another retreat weekend.

Even though I'm the new kid on the block, I've missed meeting with my classmates. I've made a couple of good friends. Over the summer there have been occasional group e-mails back and forth. I'm looking forward to the September retreat.

But I'm feeling -- I don't know -- stir-crazy. As I think I've blogged about before, part of it has to do with the fact that I am still officially an "applicant," not a "candidate," and the process of being moved from one category to the other was so vaguely explained to me that I feel like the proverbial mushroom in the dark. Part of it has to do with not having a spiritual director, which I believe, more and more, I really need. I don't fully understand the role of our assigned mentor. I'm uncomfortable with the lack of feedback. And...we've had a great deal of book-larnin', but not so much practical application -- just one skill day on teaching a variety of audiences, plus a communication class I took as an elective.

Maybe this is parallel to a freshman-year identity crisis. What am I going to do with this? What is the point of it all?

This spring I tended to hang back a bit in class; just listening, observing, trying to figure out how things work in this program. I think, in September, I am going to be more proactive in getting my questions answered. What I would like is to sit down with someone, getting clear on mutual expectations, and mapping out what my next 2 1/2 years will look like in terms of translating my class experience into ministry. Perhaps I am trying to push a left-brained construct onto a right-brained process, but that's just me.

What does this mean? I don't know. I just don't know.


Tom in Ontario said...

We don't have anything analogous to your lay ministry program in the ELCIC but I can remember the frustration with some of the Candidacy process as I was going through it for ordination. Each candidate was assigned an advisor (I think that was the title) who was a member of the Candidacy Committee whose role was essentially nothing. Even when we asked what the role of this advisor was the answer was very vague and basically boiled down to "nothing."

Talk to some of your "comrades" in the program. Find out some things, work out some things, with them. Maybe talking to instructors or someone at the synod office can help too. Maybe getting something done sooner than later would be good so that you don't stew in you uncertainty.


LutheranChik said...

I'm wondering if the situation isn't also similar to the sorts of "faculty advising" I had in college, which was something less than what I had expected as a starry-eyed freshman. Although, in this case, I can't help but feel that our mentors, unlike my faculty advisor in school, actually have a say in what happens to us in this program. Is this like an ecclesiastical Survivor, only in our case we don't know when we're being evaluated, how we're being evaluated and by whom?

Maybe it's me -- maybe I was hoping that I'd wind up sitting at the feet of a Julian of Norwich.;-) Maybe I'm taking this process more seriously than it's meant to be taken. (Although I think that would be a shame.) I know at least one other newbie who is feeling similarly confused at this point.

The academics part of it is wonderful -- I love it. And I love the people -- our worship experiences and small group discussions are very rewarding. It's just the "system" part of it that is really bothering me at this point. And maybe this is because it's a relatively new thing, and they haven't worked the bugs out...maybe I need to tell them, "Look -- you really need some more one-on-one with the students." Which, actually, is what I intend to do. The program is open to student feedback. But I want to give it one-on-one, and not via one of those end-of-session "How are we doing?" surveys.

(LC sees them writing in her dossier: "Troublemaker.")[rueful grin]

LutheranChik said...

And this whole "I wonder what they mean...," "I wonder what they want...," etc., speaks to at least my own need to have clear goals and expecations, and regular feedback. That's how it works in the real world. I'm a pretty simpleminded person; I like bulleted lists and deadlines and written procedures for doing things, performance reviews and explicit "You're doing a good job" or "You're screwing up" messages. When I find myself in more nebulous/nuanced communications territory I feel as if I'm in a foreign country where I don't really understand the language or customs.

Anonymous said...

Oremus is Latin for "Let us pray."