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Saturday night I gathered in the Sacramento convention center with hundreds and hundreds of other Methodists for the ending of the annual conference. I'd never been to anything quite like this before, and I was glad to see familiar faces when we walked in. There was a small gathering from my parents' church, and my older sister, her husband, and his parents were there too. Richard got to meet my sister's in-laws, who are wonderfully sweet people, and who immediately starting to tease him, asking if he'd been warned about what sort of family he was marrying into.
I don't know about all the others, but this little crowd was there for one particular reason that night. My mother was consecrated as a Diaconal minister in the Methodist church. She knelt before the bishop as he spoke the words, and I'm not sure if I've ever been more proud of her than I was at that moment. She has been working up to this for a number of years, unsure at times if she was doing the right thing, but sure at least that she had been called.
I'm not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination. I suppose I would classify as an agnostic. I believe that religion has a usefulness and a place, but I have a difficult time with the concept of one all-powerful supreme being. I accept that there are things that are unexplainable, and that there are forces greater than what is known at work. And I have a great deal of respect for people who are religious, like my mother, while still being open and tolerant. Right wing fanatics of any religion (although I'll admit my main exposure to right-wing fanatics has been Christian) I have little respect for. Any inability to accept that there may be differing views on faith and religion, that there may be more than one 'right' way - that I find pathetic and sad. (As a side note, if you ever want to have a lot of fun with a right-wing fanatical Christian, ask them to prove the existance of God without using the Bible. They can't do it. Go on! Try it! You'll see.)
My mom is one of the most open and liberal 'religious' persons I know. Her particular calling is working as a chaplain in hospitals and hospice care, comforting the sick and dying, and their friends and family. It's not a task I would ever want, or be able to do, but she seems to be made for it. If there is a God (or Goddess) then he/she guided my mom to the right path. Call it God, or spirituality, or simply overwhelming love, but whatever sent that calling, it was there Saturday night. In the hundreds of other Methodists who stood silently to support the candidates that they knew. In the words of the Bishop as he gave his farewell sermon. In our little group as we watched my mom. And yes, even in some who normally find it hard to believe. Like me.