Monday, November 17, 2008

Reflections on Confirmation

John and I were confirmed yesterday. We're officially Episcopalian. It's funny--even just four years ago I wouldn't have imagined myself in a denominational church, much less the Episcopal Church. But we change, life changes us, and so it is. I have certainly found a home there, a stabilizing connection. I find it hard to believe how whole I feel these days.

The confirmation ceremony was not quite as daunting as I'd imagined; I had been a bit nervous about the bishop and his hat. Even though I appreciate high church and have no problem with the ceremonial garments, that hat just gets to me. But I saw a kind and smiling face underneath the hat, which I think I've decided I like after all, if only for its amusing qualities.

John and I attended a month-long Inquirers' Course prior to being received. Throughout the whole class I thought that Father Rick was referring to all of us who were to be confirmed as "contrabands" and secretly wondered what the meaning of this strange term might be. I didn't realize until yesterday morning when I looked at the order of service that Rick had actually been saying "confirmands." I'm glad I didn't ask why I was illegal.

So I've been thinking about the process of confirmation, what it means to be received into a body of people. I think I've always thought of church in social terms, as a family, which it is; but it is also, somehow, mystically Christ's own body. Every time we celebrate Holy Eucharist we are reminded of this: that Christ is present with us in our own bodies, and in those we share communion with. We who are many are one because we all share one bread, one cup.

I don't know why, but these words of Mary Oliver come to me now:

Of course I have always known you
are present in the clouds, and the
black oak I especially adore, and the
wings of birds. But you are present
too in the body, listening to the body,
teaching it to live, instead of all
that touching, with disembodied joy.

My reception into the Episcopal Church was an event and a commitment, but more than that it is a reminder to me of my life that is hidden with Christ, where God is; of my true self; of Christ dwelling in me, loving me, teaching me, and helping me to live a life that is truly reconciled to God and aligned with the core message of the gospel.



Daniel Sartin said...

I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this transition. As always, I appreciate the honesty in your writing. Congratulations! Here's to feeling "whole."

Sarah said...

As another recent "confirmand" (it's been just over a year now), I loved reading your thoughts on the process. I, too, never thought to see myself a member of an Episcopal/Anglican church. But I, too, feel whole, that wholeness spreading to my family as well and bringing healing that I did not know could be. Thank you for sharing!

RC said...

Thank you for this lovely, very meaningful reflection. It reminds me of how grateful I am to be traveling on the spiritual journey with you and John!

Susan Price said...

Erica, what a lovely description of your day--and I enjoyed your thoughts on the bishop's mitre. I was confirmed in the Anglican church in August. It moved my spirit profoundly in a way which I've never experienced in a church-related ceremony. I went in for the commitment, and found it reached far more deeply that I expected.

My bishop, however, eschewed his hat. :)

living stones said...

Erica, You made me smile at bishop's hat. (I think it is rather comical, too.) But mostly, you made me reflect on how important it is to have a stabilizing connection so we can grow into our true self in community and so we all can "... live a life that is truly reconciled to God and aligned with the core message of the gospel." Thank you for this thoughtful, beautiful reflection.--Anna

Anonymous said...

This may never be read, as I have found this post rather late. I wish that more people in the Episcopal Church were able to see with what love we immigrants come into the tradition. I especially thank all of you who shared your own experiences along with Erica. I know how this whole things takes hold of our hearts first hand. As a graduate of Southeastern (then college), I now move forward in the ordination process in the Episcopal Church. Thank you for sharing that grace from your own experience. Certainly it enlivens my own.

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