One month ago today, I met with the Church of Scotland Assessors so that they could get to know me a bit more and vice versa. It's a good thing it wasn't today -- the Georgia Pollen Allergy Gremlins have stolen my voice completely!
Anyway, that meeting was both the end of one process and the beginning of the next. I had been dreaming of living in Scotland ever since 2003, when I had gone for a week on the tiny island of Iona for a week at Iona Abbey and Community. That was followed by eight days with the triennial International Gathering of the Clan Gunn. On the trip to the Glasgow airport, I managed to sniffle and boo-hoo most of the way because I didn't want to leave. My friend Jocelyn, who was traveling with me, offered to leave me -- though she was going on to London! My heart had been taken by the country and I began to dream. I landed in Georgia ready to go back, knowing that it would be for a much longer time.
Yet it took a while. I was serving a church and was committed to them. The dream would have to wait, it seemed. It reawakened when I left that church and went to work as an interim pastor. As an interim, I was hired on a contract basis and had a specific time frame -- as opposed to the indefinite term of a called position, as we call them in the Presbyterian Church. I had a time frame in which to work, so...
Last summer, I contacted the Ministry Council of the Church of Scotland, asking what was needed for me to be considered by the Church for ministry there. I did the paperwork in the winter and chose to meet with the Assessors at their February meeting. Why February? I had been to Scotland twice in the summertime and knew that I needed to experience it in the winter -- all the rain, wind, and cold that it usually held (well, that didn't work out quite as I expected).
Still, why Scotland? How does a person describe a pull on one's heart? I had wanted to travel to Scotland since I was very young, before I even knew much about it. My family heritage is in part from there. The skirl of the bagpipes snagged my heart the first time I heard it. Then I went -- and knew that I wanted more.
In the time I waited, I realized I wanted to know more about how the mother church of my own Presbyterian Church (USA) worked, how we had changed things, and just what the church in another country and culture looked like and acted like. I became more deeply interested in the Celtic tradition of Christianity, the backdrop against which this church developed. How is church and faith "done" in a whole different atmosphere? The best way to learn these things is to live with them -- and I want to do that.
So, the Assessors made the recommendation that I be granted that Certificate of Eligibility as I mentioned in the very first installment here. Just a month ago -- what a difference a month makes. I don't know yet where I will be placed for my familiarization year -- I am hoping to know that by the middle of next month. In fact, there are a lot of questions about my life right now for which the answer is, "I don't know yet." What I do know is that "grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."