(Still working from notes about the past week)
The next day (Friday 12th January) I spoke briefly to my second Frankston elder on the phone. He said that the other elder whom I had visited the day before had filled him in on the situation (I had given him permission to do this). All the second elder could add is that he agreed with the congregational chairman, that this was not quite the right time for me to go, and another two years would be good. He said that, in the 53 years he has been a member of the Lutheran Church, I was the best pastor he had ever had.
Friday afternoon, Cathy had invited her counsellor/spiritual director (who is the wife of another Lutheran pastor) to come over to talk through a range of issues through with her, including this call issue. I sat in for about half an hour with them. The counsellor tended to agree with Cathy’s assessment of the situation, and she pointed out all the biblical cases where people were called to leave home and family to follow the call of God with no assurances of the destination.
This rather forcibly reminded me of the words with which I began this journal (more than 38,000 words ago!). As a result, I decided to spend Sunday afternoon re-reading this journal from the beginning.
So now it is my intention to consider all that I have written so far, and to ask how (if at all) it can help me in the current crisis. Before I begin to do that, however, I will just add that yesterday afternoon (Monday 15th January), I went for a walk with Maddy and my dog Misha on the beach down here at Cowes. On the way, I realised that if my Spiritual Director were in favour of my turning down the call to Adelaide (as everyone else of significance seems to be), then I would not find it difficult to accept that I should stay. On the other hand, if Cathy had been in favour of the call to Adelaide (out of consideration for the well being of our family rather than wanting me to stay out of consideration for my conscience) then I would have no hesitation in accepting the call.
I told her this when I got home, and she said:
Make no mistake. I want you to stay here and sort out the Catholic thing precisely for the well being of our family. This issue has taken up too much of your time and energy. It has actually taken you away from time with Maddy, and Mia and me. All that time talking with P. and Peter Holmes on the phone, and late night meetings, and journaling and so on. I want it to be resolved so that we can get you back. If we went to Adelaide, things would be worse and not better.I asked the question of why this call now, and not four years ago. I also asked her how she felt when she had to make big decisions such as leaving teaching. She said:
It didn’t occur to you then because you wanted a family and children [‘and you’, I added]. Now perhaps God is offering you the chance to have wife, and children, and the catholic church and priesthood. You may end up with everything you want, just because it all happened in this order. You just have to take one step at a time, that’s all.