Today we ordained my friend Rev. Friend-of-Mine. It was a wonderful service, and the first time I’ve gotten weepy at an ordination. It was a lovely service. Let me start at the beginning.
When I say the beginning, I have to say I’m not entirely sure when that was. I mean, it might have been in late August, 2008 when Rev. F.o.M. and I started seminary – the same seminary, each without the other knowing. Or it might have been when we taught Sunday school together (we taught the eighth-grade sexuality education class, along with my husband Don). Of course, it might also have been when Rev. F.o.M. began teaching my 20-year-old daughter in Sunday school (along with her now-20-year-old son). Well, the true beginning might be any of those times, or one I haven’t thought of, but I think I’ll start with the beginning of seminary (don’t worry, I’m not about the give an in-depth chronicle of the last six years here).
Rev. F.o.M. and I did start at seminary at the same time. It was pretty funny when we found out. Up until last year we were pretty much in lock-step with each other. We went to the regional subcommittee on candidacy at the same time. I mean really at the same time. We not only had our appointments on the same day, but at the same hour – she in one room and I in the other.
Then Don got sick. We were both looking for internships for last year, I hadn’t found one yet and was considering my options, and we found out that Don had cancer. Well, that changed everything. Rev. F.o.M. began her internship a year ago. Don and I decided that I would put it off for a year because we just didn’t know what was coming down the pike.
I only took one class for credit last fall. Don and I went to France. I did a lot of driving Don up to Baltimore for chemo treatments, but so did many of our friends. And then starting around November I began looking for internships for this year. And in December Rev. F.o.M. went to the Ministerial Fellowship Committee. And she did very well. They gave her fellowship, which made it possible for her to be ordained.
I got the internship I wanted. And then we found out that Don’s cancer had returned. We talked about it, and decided that I should continue with the internship anyway. So that was settled. Don wasn’t doing well, though.
We are Unitarian Universalists. We’re congregational in polity. That means that the power to ordain rests in the congregation. Rev. F.o.M. and I belong to the same congregation, and she wanted to be ordained in our home congregation. So the congregation voted on this at the annual meeting in June. I had wanted to be there, but Don was so sick then. One of the older kids was staying with him, but I couldn’t stay at the meeting long, as I felt I needed to get back to him. I didn’t have the privilege of voting to ordain my friend.
Rev. F.o.M. had set the date for her ordination. Don was really looking forward to being there. After all, he and Rev. F.o.M.’s husband had been a big part of this journey. Rev. F.o.M. had made a visit to the hospital in Don’s last days.
Today I was privileged to give the blessing with all the clergy before we processed for the ordination. The thing about blessings is they make me think about my blessings. Funny, that.
So I could be focusing on all I’ve lost. I miss Don. I had hoped to be graduated along with my friend this past May, and to be ordained around now. I so very much wanted Don to see me ordained. These things were not to be. And yet, when I teared up today, they were unequivocally tears of joy.
We processed. My 20-year-old was in the choir. When it came time for the congregation – the congregation – to ordain my friend, the President of the congregation asked the members of the congregation to stand. I felt a bit…lonely? exposed? perhaps? standing alone among the clergy (we all sat together in the clergy section) being the only one among my colleagues who is a member of this congregation, but as we spoke the words of ordination, I could barely contain myself.
At the reception after the service, Rev. F.o.M.’s husband told me that he thought of how Don wasn’t going to have the same joy of seeing me up there being ordained. (This after I mentioned to him that I was afraid his smile was going to split his face in half). I was touched by that. By his taking a moment out of his joy to think of me, and of Don like that.
People kept saying to me, “You’re next.” Well, yes, probably. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself. I have a lot of studying to do first. I still have to see the Ministerial Fellowship Committee. I’m not there yet.
I know that when my day comes, Don won’t be there in body. But so many people will. And today wasn’t my day. Today was my friend’s day. It was a good day. I was able to be genuinely happy for her, and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for her. Did I mention the blessings?
That’s my mite. It’s all I’ve got.