Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Step by Step

Little by little, I take steps that will eventually lead to my becoming a pastor. Some are important to the official process: putting together my profile, taking psychological exams, writing my ordination paper (none of which are done yet). Others are smaller, but no less significant.

Yesterday, I ordered this robe. I plan on putting my name on the New Hampshire pulpit supply list, and felt that wearing a robe will help both me and the congregations recognize my authority as a seminary graduate and planning- to- be- but- not-yet-Rev.

It felt like a big step. And I'm sure the first time I wear it will feel quite significant. This coming Sunday, I will be leading worship at the Community Church of Hudson, the church in which I grew up. It will mark the first time most of the congregants will have heard me preach. It would be great if my robe arrives in time to wear it for that service, although I preached at Broadway UCC in New York without one, and it didn't seem to bother anyone one bit--I got a lot of compliments on my sermon!

Step by step, though, is how it needs to be done. I've realized that I will not just wake up one day and be (and feel like) a pastor. But if I take it step by step, I will become. It will also feel a whole heck of a lot less intimidating!

We have become an instant-response culture. We want dinner in less than 30 min, super-high-speed internet access, 'round the clock news access and updates, firming creams that take away wrinkles overnight, etc. The natural world, however--of which we often forget we are a part--seldom works that way.

I planted a garden about two weeks ago. Peppers, tomatoes, beans, squash, watermelon, basil, rosemary. With the exception of the beans, everything was planted as a seedling. I've noticed my impatience with the growth. I just started getting flowers on one of the larger tomato plants. A couple days ago, my beans started breaking through the soil. While it's certainly progress, I've had to train myself to remember they won't grow overnight. It's not an instantaneous process. At first, I was checking the plants like I check my e-mail: several times a day!

Now, although I often look over at them from the deck, look for evidence of leaves being munched on, and check for weeds, I realize that each plant grows at its own pace, and takes the time it needs to complete its "steps" for successful growth. Even before they were planted, the ground had to be prepared, and nutrients were added with compost that had been over a year in the making. Then each one needs to send out strong roots into that soil before it can spend energy going up. When it does start going up, it needs to make sure it has strong stems and leaves to give structure and get nutrients from the sun. Then (in most cases), the flowers come out and often need the help of bees to pollinate. Only then can the plant begin sending its energy into producing fruit. Each step builds upon the previous one--and they don't all happen at once.

This is something I need to remind myself. Build my steps one by one so that they can be built upon each other. If I attempt to produce fruit without having allowed my roots to take hold, I won't get any nutrients. If I get some fruit grown without a good support structure, I'll just fall over. One thing at a time. Bird by bird, as author Anne Lamott says.

That's my mantra for the summer, I think. Bird by bird. Bird by bird. Bird by bird. Or maybe, bean by bean...

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  1. so are you circulating yet? and where in new hampshire are you? you are not very far away....

  2. Beth I loved this blog post! I'm a gardener too and can relate to the many metaphors that gardens provide for all aspects of life. I can also relate to the wanting to look at it frequently just to see what happened - because even though it's slow - something always happens!

    Come blog at EverydayCitizen more. Just jump in! We miss you!