Monday, January 10, 2005

Lesson in sacrifice

So yesterday I signed into my aol account, which I only check weekly or so here, and found three emails in a row, all sent within 24 hours of each other, from camp people. One was a news update from a coworker, which was pleasant, though it made me more aware of how much I'll miss camp this summer. Another was from a woman at the council office, asking me if I knew yet for sure about this summer, whether any of last year's staff might want to return, how they would go about that, etc. It's an email she shouldn't really have had to write; I ought to have been in touch with her by now about my intentions to do CPE this summer, but I've been putting it off. The third email was from my former boss, the former outdoor program head at council, forwarding me a job description for a position as day camp director at the local CYO camp. That was flattering, if not as tempting as returning to my own camp program.

The net result of all this, though, was to throw me into more of a tizzy than it probably should have. Not only has Girl Scouting been a formative influence in my life - not only do I adore my camps - not only have I been blessed with great coworkers and campers there - but camp work is the other arena in which I seem to have gifts, and to which I've ever felt any real sense of call. Having these three emails come at me at once, reminding me that camp is a place where I'm good at what I do and where that is to the benefit of others, put me closer than I've been in a few years to doubting my call to be here. It's sort of a strange thing, since my sense of call to ordained ministry has continued to be strong here and a new sense of possible call to scholarship and teaching in some form has begun to emerge so palpably in recent months. But this clump of emails threw me for a loop. Saying no to camp this year is harder than even I realized it would be, in ways that go way beyond fun and nostalgia.

As I've thought about it, the best explanation I can come up with for this strange juxtaposition (the emails came right in the middle of scheduling CPE interviews for this summer) seems to be some sort of object lesson in sacrifice and temptation. My faith tradition teaches me that the life of Christian discipleship involves sacrifice, and the discernment process makes it clear that this certainly ought to be true of the choice to attend seminary. I've had to sacrifice relatively little to be here - the opportunity for a foray into comfort and stability, perhaps? certainly I haven't had to choose between moving away from my family and moving my family, or abandon a career that was either lucrative or rewarding, or any of the other major sacrifices many of my classmates have made. Probably it's just my turn to have to sacrifice something I love in order to do what I really believe God is calling me to do. Quite possibly this is an exercise in resisting temptation - I will admit that on a certain level it's tempting just to postpone CPE another year and return to camp this summer. It's tempting to let myself be flattered by my coworkers' and supervisers' regard for my work and to choose the known over the unknown, especially when the known is such a rewarding and useful enterprise. But I also know that resisting temptation is part of the Christian life, and I suspect this may be a grand opportunity for resisting what is both obviously and subtly tempting. Like all true sacrifice, though, it's hard to do. It's hard to give this up, even when I know that these are gifts for which God will likely find a use in or around the vocation to which I've committed.

I suspect also that I'm not making much sense any more - it is nearly midnight after a full day, after all - so I'll leave it at that for now, and go to bed with a prayer for grace to accept this willingly and with a glad heart.

No comments: