I have been meditating on and off today on my similarities with Captain Kirk. There are differences. I’m a woman, he’s a man. I was born in Florida and I work in Buffalo. He was born in Iowa and he works in Space. I have never piloted a space craft – he has. He’s fairly clear about his level of awesome, where as I’m just beginning to sound out mine. He’s a figment of my imagination, while I’m a figment of God’s imagination.
But then there are similarities. We are both under Orders. There are things we’ve danced around, but never faced directly. But let me back up. [Spoiler Alert!]
I recently saw the new Star Trek movie, Into Darkness and I was well pleased with it on the whole, as well as in part. And of course, I had to go back and revisit Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, and the original episode which featured Khan & Co. (And if I could get my VHS player cleaned, I could watch my favorite, The Voyage Home.) But more to the point, I was entranced by a conversation between characters in the original universe about Kirk and Death. The general thrust of the conversation, sponsored by the fact that Kirk hacked the Kobiashi Maru, the no-win scenario designed to test your character in the midst of defeat and death, was that Kirk had never actually faced death. He’d cheated it. He’d defied it. He’d avoided it. He’d danced around it. But never had he actually faced it, until the death of Spock. Now, that’s the original version, and the recent retool isn’t the same here – the New Kirk has faced death everywhere, starting with the tragic death of his father at a very young age. But the New Kirk, in my opinion, has something that he’s danced around but never faced – failure. From his own point of view, he has never failed. Life regularly hands him lemons, but by his own standards he has never failed, until he saves Spock’s life and has his command taken away for it, and then later, in the moment when he begs Admiral Marcus to accept his surrender and spare his crew – which the Admiral admits he never planned to do.
So, the call I made at 9am on Monday turned out to be the, “I’m so sorry, this is so awkward, thank you so much for your interest and effort, but no.” You’ve been booted from our bishop search in the first week. Didn’t even get to the point where they’d want to check my references. Ouch. Very, very clearly I was not who they wanted, even though, interestingly, I matched their profile precisely. Ah well, so it goes.
And after a few tears shed and some perspective from friends and loved ones – because practicing what I preach is just about as hard for me as it is for anyone in the pews, let’s be honest – I realized that of all my life experiences, professional rejection isn’t one I’ve ever encountered. Now, like the New Kirk, there have been some platters of lemons served to me, but in my head they’ve always seemed like something else, good fodder for lemonade, or the expected fruit of the season. And I’ve experienced plenty of personal rejection. I mean, I’ve dated, for one, and for another my relationship with one of my parental units is not ideal. But professional rejection? Yeah, no. I’ve never really strived for a job that I’ve not gotten. I’ve never been fired from a job I really loved. This may say more about my selection process than anything else, and certainly my particular occupational trek hasn’t been one of a traditional anything, and so lemons that other people might label ‘failure’ or ‘rejection’ I simply see differently.
But not this one.
The temptation, of course, is to take it personally. Very, very personally. This is naturally what my Ego wants me to do. (More religious? Call it the Devil.) Take it personally, realize you suck and only deserve lemons even when you requested steak, crawl in a hole and cry yourself into oblivion and the largest pity party you’ve ever hosted.
The truth, of course, is nothing like this. For reasons that don’t really matter, I’m not going to be serving as the Bishop Suffragan of that particular diocese. Now I get to forgive them, and myself. There are other bits to it, such as focusing on projects, finishing and starting anew, but all of those things are just details. The really important bit, the thing that is really, really my actual purpose on this planet is to learn how to forgive everything. Including that diocese and their search committee. So here we go. And after liberal application of friends, loved ones, emergency chocolate and 1000 cc of fried potatoes, I am ready to put on my big girl panties and get down to some serious forgiveness.
So, as a parting thought for you, something from this week’s Exegete.
Unity is a funny thing and we humans don’t seem to have the knack of it all on our own. We prefer divisions. And distinctions. We like rankings very much. We want to know where we stand – and where you stand. While we’re at it, we’re quite fond of judgments, ones we consider good and ones we castrate ourselves over. (Figuratively, if not literally.) We like our personalities, our uniqueness, our autonomy, and more often than perhaps we like to admit, we really like to be Very Special Snowflakes who get their own way as well as special recognition. We like titles, roles and special celebrations to commemorate our titles and roles – such as statuary and glittery objects. We cherish our romances as much as we cherish our hatreds which is a seemingly opposite way of singling out people to adore or abhor, both of which exclude the very concept of Unity.
And yet the Christian life calls us to a different interpretation of reality. These divisions? This specialness we long for? Not happening. I am not special. You are not special. Not in a positive way, not in a negative way. We’re better than special – we’re One. We’re One with God. All of us. You, me, the person you adore, the person you abhor, we are all one. One.
It is only that for reasons strange and perverse, we’ve chosen to ignore the one true interpretation of reality. And really, I suspect it’s not making us any happier. Thank God we have the Holy Spirit as a guide. We really would be stuck in hell without It.