Shepherd and I are in Pittsburgh, PA for the ELCA Deaconess Assembly this week. Today was the day that all the Sister's arrived and, as a candidate, (Shep &) I ushered them to their rooms and got a chance to chat with many of them on the short walk. I have to say, I expected a diverse bunch, and these women do not disappoint. Many were very loving of Shepherd, asking to be called 'Auntie.' Many were kind in introducing themselves. Many were ambivalent about us, seeming only to care about their fellow Sisters. A few actually told me they would not remember my name until I was invested and given the title Sister. And only 2 (so far, to be fair) have asked me where I feel called to ministry. I will likely disregard this as something to be attributed to the annual-ness this community gathers, and therefore the rarity so many of these women - many of whom spent time living together in community - get to see one another. That, and it is the first day. But some of it puts me off. I have a few sisters that, sadly already, I have written off as women who will not ever care about what I care about - even though I don't know the first thing about them beyond their names. Tomorrow the community will begin the process of calling and voting on a new Directing Deaconess. As a candidate, I am highly encouraged to participate in the discussions and meetings about this, however I am not allowed to vote. Makes sense. However, how much would my spoken opinion matter if something needed to be said? Like I said, I don't know 3/4 of these women from the women I see at the Woodinville Target on a given day, do they care about my opinion or what it represents? Will my voice be one of a young mother who feels a call to prophetic diakonia in a post-religious world in the Pacific-Northwest, or a girl candidate who doesn't know the community's unspoken rules yet? I don't know, but I hope that I can be humble enough to be listening for the Lord's stillness and nudges as I enter these discussions.
sigh. (that was a good one, for the most part)