Halfway done General Ordination Exams!

The GOEs are not known for being a fun experience. They make some people shake with fear, and have been know to turn mild mannered seminarians into sobbing wrecks. I’ve been holding up okay, although I’m not exactly having fun.

Somehow, as I’ve worked through the four sections we’ve had so far, I’ve found myself able to make meaning out of yet another part of the priesthood process. Some pieces of the priesthood process are designed for specific reasons, to give us certain experiences, to form us in certain ways, to help us learn things we are not yet wise enough to know we need to learn. Other parts of the process are haphazard and feel like being punished.

Meaning-making has always been a priority in my inner life. Whether people would guess that about me or not is another story; making that side of me more public is one of my longer term goals. But anyway, it’s not that I don’t care how things work or why things happen, it’s that I have a burning desire and drive to know – what does it all MEAN????

And so regardless of how poorly something is put together, or how random or coincidental events are in reality, I still feel a drive to make meaning out of my experiences.

Enter the GOEs. They are called cruel by some, hazing by others, a necessary evil by others. Whatever they’re called, I’m in the middle of taking them. And it’s been a tough journey so far, and I’m not at all thrilled with some of the work I’ve done.

But in the midst of that there has been significant opportunity for finding meaning in the experience. I have found meaning in the rhythm of morning prayer with my class, in the food and hovering care of the juniors and middlers, in the choices I’ve made about what I’ve spent down time doing, in experiencing the ministry of presence from the other side, in the gratitude I’ve had for time with friends who didn’t need to talk about GOEs, in the husband who gets up super early to get out of the house, comes home to cook for me, and puts up with my whining.

And I’ve had deeply spiritual moments, in which the tools and language of my Church have illuminated my faith in ways I’ve never felt before and yet in ways I’ve always know, in which biblical texts seemed new and fresh, in which the voice of a middler reading in morning prayer seemed to convey a personal message from God across the centuries. I’ve been left shaking by the experience of writing out my Eucharistic theology – not from fear but from the sheer joy and delight in realizing that I have a Eucharistic theology, and that in the words of my prayer book and the beliefs of the church I am giving my life to I have found my own purpose and salvation.

Who knew an exam could inspire all of this? I should have known, because that’s who I am. It all means something, and life without analysis, without thought and meaning and struggle feels flat, empty, and dead to me.


~ by Sophia on January 7, 2009.

4 Responses to “Halfway done General Ordination Exams!”

  1. This is wonderful!I hope the next two days go smoothly!!

  2. Thank you for this.I hope today was a day of rest and restoration for you.Perhaps more on the Eucharist and the paschal mystery after GOEs, in this forum or another?You remain in my prayers and those of many.

  3. As a confirmed sceptic re the necessity for academic excellence as a preparation for priestly ministry, I’m absolutely thrilled to read this – finding God in the unlikely places is so very much what we are for, I’m certain.Love and blessings as you continue xx

  4. Amen, amen.

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