A Reflection on the Beginning of the End

This week I have started the last semester of my seminary journey preparing for Word and Sacrament ministry in the ELCA. I’m very close to being a pastor, having a first call, and serving in a church, but not quite there. I’m thinking about how this is a difficult stage in the process. I feel ready, I want to begin, but I have to wait. I want to know the answers to questions about where I will be, but it is not yet time.

So I’m faced with the reality that I don’t like waiting. I don’t like not knowing. I don’t like the lack of control. I recognize the way this makes me feel, and sometimes respond. The journey has been long, fruitful, and worthwhile. And almost over.

This morning while dwelling in Romans 12 I was caught by verse 12:

“Rejoice in hope,
be patient in suffering,
persevere in prayer.”

Hope, suffering, prayer. Everyone is in need of hope. Everyone experiences suffering, even if it is a privileged form of suffering like I’m acquainted with. Everyone can pray and God hears everyone’s prayers. This is how we persevere.

And then these words from Richard Rohr’s daily meditations, quoting Brian McLaren:

“…one of our core teachings is “the path of descent,” the idea that the spiritual life will eventually require us to descend into a dark tunnel, to descend into unknowing and doubt, to descend into a loss of certainty, to descend through a process that feels like dying. To my surprise, the mystics believed this was not something to be avoided, but rather it was a passageway into something deeper and greater.”

I trust that the unknowing and uncertainty I am experiencing is just the end of the transitional tunnel I’m traveling through, and that the opening is near.