September 3, 2013

Yes, and…

Nota - Este artículo es disponible en español aquí. 

A very close friend and a colleague I can best describe as an acquaintance both blog. One is a Presbyterian pastor and author, the other an actor. And both of them recently posted about improvisation. More specifically, each reflected on the “yes and” acting technique that requires you to take what has been handed to you and build with it. Very briefly, you have to say yes to what is and not what you had thought or hoped or wanted.

That is hard enough to do. But then the technique pushes a step further: that three letter word, “and”, carries a world of trust in our gifts, ability, and commitment. “Yes and” says -- you have accepted the world as it is—now what are you going to do about making it better or taking it another step forward? How will you build from this particular foundation?

I am using the “yes, and” technique a lot these days. My husband, also a priest, and I have collaborated in ministry for many years. Now he is ready to retire—in fact, he has announced his retirement while I still have a good 12-15 years of active ministry left in me. Yes, Sherod’s retiring and I am discerning ways to take the next step in ministry, trying to find the next place that has the kind of energy, life, and need that invites me deeper into my vocation.

My “yes, and” occurs in a church that we all recognize is struggling. Yes, I know and my previous experiences as a priest have equipped me to work with that truth rather than fight it or engage in magical thinking that suggests I can waltz into a new ministry position. Part of the way forward for me is to draw on the experience of serving on the margins. Through this blog, I hope to share with others in the Episcopal Church how I have found remarkable opportunities for ministry out on the edges where there is little certainty or clarity but any number of invitations to say "yes and." It’s those "yes-and" kinds of experiences I’ve been blessed by that I look forward to sharing on with you.