Accepting the Call: The Next Step in the Journey
This is Part 2 of Laurel’s story. See the first part here.
As I began to assess my talents and gifts, I learned about the art of Spiritual Direction. A Spiritual Director is one trained to listen deeply and to accompany another along their spiritual journey. Drawn to this work, I began a 3-year course of study in which I discovered that while I had always been successful in finding solutions for others, I was unskilled at listening and allowing others to solve problems for themselves. With this new awareness, I began to discern again. “Who, God, are you calling me to be?” Stilling my own voice with the mantra, “thy will be done.”
I suddenly heard, “Deacon!”
Startled, my eyes burst open as I gasped, “No way!” and I then began to cry. The thought of being called into ordained ministry left me terrified and unsettled, so much so that I spent several minutes trying to talk God out of it. When that didn’t work, I agreed to sit with it for a while, hoping it would just go away. But it didn’t. When I found the courage to tell my husband, he responded, “I was just waiting.”
As I shared the news with others, I discovered that many concurred, having seen in me for a long time what I had been unable to see in myself. And with this, my formal journey toward ordained ministry began.
Over the next five years, I led a multi-vocational life as I continued with project work in the Events Industry and with Wonder Voyage, leading youth trips, and working with Shawn to further develop trips for adults, called Adult Journeys. It was on these trips where my maturing faith began to meld with my organizational skills. It also was the beginning of my journey from committee to seminary to ordination.
My parish-level committee affirmed my calling as a Deacon, but when I heard the news, rather than feeling excitement and joy, I felt profound disappointment. It would take another four months of deep work with my own Spiritual Director to finally muster the courage to speak the truth that was within me: My calling was to the Priesthood. I wrote those words in my journal as I awaited the decision of the Commission on Ministry, praying that they would hear what I knew to be true. And they did.
Three and a half years of seminary, sprinkled with a few amazing trips for Wonder Voyage, culminated in my graduation with a Master of Divinity degree in May of 2018, and my ordinations: as a Transitional Deacon in June 2018, and as a Priest in January 2019. I began my ministry serving for a year as an Associate Priest for Youth and Spiritual Care, which was followed by a call to serve as the Interim Priest in Charge at a congregation in transition. In June of this year, I received an unsolicited email from an Episcopal church in Carmel, California. St. Dunstan’s was seeking a new rector, and they had been given my name. Thus began a four-month journey of interviews, discernment, wonderings, and imaginings, which after a Covid-19 socially distanced visit, resulted in my being called as their next Rector!
Mine is a journey of twists and turns, ups and downs, times of ease, and times of struggle. What has been constant is God’s work in my life and the mysterious and beautiful ways in which God places people along your path who support and encourage you. My life has been blessed immeasurably by my work with Wonder Voyage, and by the hundreds of adults and youth I have served along the way. As I now prepare to give myself fully into ministry with a new community of faith, I will carry with me all that I have received from being a part of Wonder Voyage, and from the privilege of walking through the journey with them by my side.
A passion for exploration of both the world and her faith brought Laurel to Wonder Voyage. She is a Transitional Deacon who serves as the Associate for Youth and Spiritual Engagement at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Palos Verdes, California and anticipates being ordained to the Priesthood in January of 2019. Laurel also works as event management consultant and is a Certified Spiritual Director. She feeds her soul through traveling, biking and singing!