Years ago when I would bemoan the fact that I chose to go into parish ministry rather than the Peace Corps, a close friend would to say to me, “But Kaye, middle-class suburbanites probably need to hear what you have to say more than anyone else. They just don’t know it.”
I guess it seemed to me that folks like me didn’t need me as much as perhaps starving children in Ethiopia. Some of the folks in my churches were more concerned with the most ridiculous things like who put the utensils back in the wrong spot in the kitchen, or harping on how people shouldn’t drink coffee during worship, or insisting that shaking hands during worship was disruptive. Sigh. Did they know I was dealing with people who were dying, depressed, lost, lonely and scared? Did I care if we moved the furniture in the Friendship Room and didn’t put it back and now people could see the sofa marks in the carpeting? No. I just wanted to make a real difference in the world. Heck, I probably wanted to “save” the world (please take that metaphorically, this was not about saving anyone from some eternally burning pit of fire). Driven by some bizarre inner force, I continued to try and share God’s unconditional love, deep abiding peace and all-encompassing compassion with everyone.
But I got my friend’s point. I was preaching to the privileged who were often more concerned with things and outside appearances than stuff of the soul. The privileged tend to have most of their basic needs met and often don’t even consider that a true, deep, interior spiritual life might exist or even be beneficial. Church was a social club, a status symbol, a beloved building. How does one possibly get past that and move people to think and question and grow?
Truly, I am blessed to now be preaching to this group of rebels and misfits who call themselves Sacred Journeys Spiritual Community. Here is an intelligent group of suburbanites who have not fallen prey to privilegitis (my new word). Growing spiritually and finding their authentic selves truly means something to these folks. I applaud their desire to learn, their passion for the journey and their compassion for those near and far. Every week I am lifted up by their enthusiasm, their joy, and their hopefulness when things are rough. I may hold the title as their Spiritual Leader, but I am merely one of the many spiritual leaders in this community.
We are each given a set of gifts to use to spread love. The Peace Corps would have been an amazing experience, but in the words of Mordecai (Esther 4:14), perhaps I have been brought to this place “for just such a time as this.”
Peace ~ Kaye