Friday, April 26, 2013

You don't always get what you want...

Home from On Fire, the AngloCatholic Renewal Conference that I experienced for the first time last year. I blogged about it then - and had been looking forward hugely to reconnecting with this network and finding out what God had in store for me. I went with some pretty huge things to pray through - and, this time, with the reassurance of knowing I was going to spend time with established friends, people with whom I'm comfortable sharing at deep levels. On day 1 as we enjoyed a gin before dinner I commented to one about how lovely it was not to be in a state of badly-suppressed terror...this time the arrival at High Leigh had something of the same feeling of home-coming I usually associate with Greenbelt. I was excited and hopeful.

Which made it harder, I think, when some of the teaching on offer this year was distinctly UNhelpful. Some things were said in ways that I'm pretty certain would not have been part of what the organising committee expected or wanted...and there was a stirring of unwelcome memories for some of my friends.  Having not been part of the charismatic movement in the past, I was immune from those particular struggles - but had plenty of my own as the week unfolded. 

Of course, there was much that was completely wonderful. Time with friends, raspberry gin, addresses by the Bishop of Hertford - and encounters with God in the Blessed Sacrament both at the Eucharist and during Exposition and Benediction. 

But there was also disappointment.When I took a deep breath and went forward for prayer ministry, placing all that I was carrying with me firmly in God's arms - though friends left and right were falling down, it seemed that (to paraphrase) "in Kathryn, nothing much happened"
And that, of course, triggered all my own insecurities about charismatic gifts. Had I let God down somehow by not being open to him? 
What was I holding onto unconsciously that was stopping God from doing what I firmly believed that I needed God to do?

That wasn't a good evening.

And then we reached the final Mass. A service where the music was mostly familiar, the sermon truly outstanding and in which we were each lovingly anointed for whatever God was calling us on to. 
Like other services at "On Fire" the Mass included a time of waiting on the Spirit. Last year there had been a picture that seemed to be specially for me...but again, this year, there was discouraging silence where I had hoped for something loud, clear and unmistakeable. 
All there was was was the reassurance "God says, I am not SENDING you out but going with you..." (did I say "All"? - oh well, you see what sort of mood I was in...full of grumpy mutterings to myself about "wasted opportunities" and "a whole year til you'll be with people who get this stuff" and....)

And then - well, then I went forward to do my job as a chalice assistant as the rota had indicated - and there and then, as I did what I do week after week after week God met me and swept me up in a whirlwind of love and joy that made it impossible not to grin like a lunatic at each and every person to whom I handed the chalice. I just about resisted the urge to say to each
"The blood of Christ - and you do know, don't you, that it comes with all the love that you'll ever need and more.......?" but that was most definitely what I was feeling for myself.
And isn't that just LIKE God? and just like me?
I'm spending ages hammering on a door that doesn't seem to want to open, - while beside me stands another, flung wide...

Perhaps the charismatic gifts will be part of my future. 
Perhaps they won't.
I know myself well enough to resist saying that I won't mind either way. I want any and every shiney thing that God might be offering - so I will keep on asking, but I do know that God doesn't love me less if those gifts do not become part of my life and part of my ministry.

I know too that as I stood there yesterday God affirmed me in my vocation as His priest...affirmed me in doing what I do day after day after day as I stand before His people and offer them God's own self in bread and wine.

Oh - and the Rolling Stones quote? well, I guess that might just have been the prophetic word I was craving, as over our final lunch a friend said, a propos of nothing obvious "You don't always get what you want..." and my heart responded happily 
" might find that you get what you need".


Dyfed said...

Great post because it's so honest. Many feel the same as you do - even within the charismatic movement. It has nothing to do with your failure - though it probably feels like that at times.

UKViewer said...

Obviously your experience was profoundly moving and profoundly unique.

I can't say that I understand or am even comfortable with the Charismatic nature of Anglo Catholicism, although I had thought that I have been moving steadily from the broad church towards a more Catholic identity within it. From your writing, it seems that I still have some way to go on that journey.

But one thing that you wrote about your experience when administering communion 'that sense of the overwhelming love of God overcoming you' is something of my own experience at times.

In some sense, it happens unexpectedly. Once at Cathedral Evensong, another time in a freezing Church at an BCP, where the frosted voices or our prayers visibly ascending to heaven overcame me.

You also write about the exposition of the Sacrament and Benediction. These are echoes of my own Roman Catholic upbringing - something that I still struggle with 'The Real Presence'. I can get a sense of the Spiritual Presence, but have still to receive the conviction that transubstantiation is the essential mystery of the Sacrament, because my logic is telling me different. Even though I use the inner prayer 'My Lord and My God' at the words of consecration.

But it's a privilege to share your experience here. Much to go away and reflect on and to pray about.

Billster said...

I really appreciate the honesty of what you wrote Kathryn and also from UK Viewer. I have experienced a similar situation at rallies like Soul Survivor but I have to admit that, rather than thinking there was something wrong with me, I was thinking more along the lines of mass hysteria.

I've just been studying the ceremonial rites of the Eucharist and find the Anglo-Catholic approach fascinating but am firmly low church myself. If you ever have time, I'd love to know what the attraction is for you.