Governor Gregoire gave her State of the State Address to a joint session of the Washington Legislature this week. I think it may be time for me to offer a State of the Internship address to the blogosphere. To do so I’m going to be using a paper that I wrote for a class last semester which summarizes a lot of the ups and downs I have been through over the last few years with what it means to be called. Enjoy!
Recently, I took some much needed time away from my studies and headed back to my home territory in the Midwest to spend a summer working at camp. I drove there and back again with two different companions each of whom had their own way of traveling. Heading east, I traveled with a former roommate who I have known throughout my seminary studies. He would take the route and set a goal for the day. He would then take this smaller journey and divide it up into smaller destinations that could help indicate our progress in reaching our final destination. Heading west, I drove with an old friend who was much less concerned about the destination. She was much more interested in stopping to see things along the way: breweries, waterfalls, balls of twine, etc. I tend to travel more like my old roommate. For me the destination is always more important than the journey. This perspective on travel was only reinforced by what was waiting for me at the end of the road going West: my girlfriend who I had not seen in a month and a half. All the stops along the way were fun, but I was really anxious to see her.
The journey to understand my vocation has been full of fits and starts over the last few years as I have tried out different routes. I have pursued ordination in my native denomination but things did not seem to work out. I tried being an intern pastor for a congregation within my original denomination and it has been a wonderfully fulfilling experience. Each time I have tried a new route, I was motivated by the same thing that compelled me westward on my road trip: my love.
There are lots of definitions of vocation. Originally it comes from the latin word for calling: vocatio. It is a treasured and yet often ignored category within the church, resplendent with meaning and yet usually isolated to the role of the pastor in the contemporary church. Frederick Buechner suggested that vocation is the intersection of one’s great joy and the world’s deep hunger. I would define it as one’s great love. It is the thing that one cannot help but do, otherwise one must close off a part of oneself. Sadly, this occurs more often than not. Like my travels this summer there are things that take one far from their love and there are things that keep one from reaching love again even when one has turned around and has started a return journey. Some of both these elements are in my story. Although distractions may arise, there is a place I am trying to get to, and it is the fullness of love, a place where I can truly own my vocation and practice it to the glory of God.
Jon Glenn is an intern Pastor at Lakeridge Lutheran Church for the 2011-2012 school year. He attends the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and is really looking forward to graduating this June. His current hobbies include reading, cooking and planning a wedding with his fiancee Melissa.