Forgive the very personal nature of this blog posting, but…
Today marks a significant change in the direction my life is taking: for a while now, I thought I was basically an academic, who did other things alongside that.
Today I have been elected as the ninth Leader of the Iona Community. Now everything else will happen alongside that.
I knew last year that I had to stand in this election – this was a ‘calling’ and a bit like the Jonah-and-the-whale story, I could not find a way of evading it. I did not feel called to be the Leader, but I did very much feel called to stand as a candidate for the Leadership. From there I had to rely on the wisdom and prayers and insights of the Members.
The Iona Community has just over 260 full Members, and is a tremendously – and at times terrifyingly! – talented community of engaged and wonderful people from all walks of life, in Scotland, the wider UK, and around the world. And to my astonishment, from a choice of inspiring and wonderful candidates, they have elected me.
For now I continue working at the Iona Community where I have been doing a temporary nine-month job since October last year. In the summer I take over from Rev. Peter MacDonald, who has been Leader since 2009. That is a tough act to follow!
The Member overseeing the election has been tremendously supportive, and a few days ago sent this to all the candidates, by Richard Rohr:
In the eternal scheme of things, we discover that all God wants from you is you.
It’s just so humbling, because it always feels like not enough, doesn’t it?
“All I want is to be like Saint Francis,” I said to my spiritual director, over and over…
Finally, one day he said, “Hey Richard, you’re not, and you’re never going to be, Francis of Assisi. You’re not even close, all right? You’re ‘unfortunately’ Richard Rohr from Kansas.” I said to myself, This doesn’t sound nearly as dramatic or exciting.
Except when I realised: all God wants is Richard from Kansas.
But that’s what I don’t know how to give you, God!
It feels so insignificant, and yet this is the liberating secret: I am precisely the gift God wants—in full and humble surrender. There is unity between the path taken and the destination where we finally arrive. Saints are not uniform but are each unique creations of grace according to the journey God has led them through.
I’m still just me. And being the Iona Community’s Leader will still make me just me – but I know that the point behind it being a community is that I am one of many, and together we can do great things! For now, I’m honoured, humbled, excited, and intimidated – and looking forward to the next seven years. As we pray in the Community:
In work and worship – God is with us.
Gathered and scattered – God is with us.
Now and always – God is with us.