So, for a few years now I've been wondering what to do next. In my twenties, there seemed to be no limits - I could be a teacher, and a missionary, and be involved in politics, and write, and do a PhD, and and and and
but. Then I was around the 30 mark, when we realize maybe every door opened means another several doors are closed. Because we have finite time and energy.
And all the time there was this little voice niggling. Train as a priest. Or presbyter, pastor, whatever you want to call it.
'But I don't really know what ordination is for!' I protested. I can do all the things I enjoy without being ordained.
And ordained people have to kind of toe the church line - theologians can get away with more, they have more freedom to say what they want!
It's too hard, too expensive to go back to study, too big a commitment ...
My motives aren't completely clear. I think I want to study theology full-time, I'm not sure it's entirely unselfish ...
There were a million reasons not to. And yet here I am. The Bishop has given the green light for me to train towards ordained ministry in the Church of Ireland.
It has been a long process. First, I had to take the brave step of telling another human being - how do you tell someone you feel called to ordained ministry? What if they laugh, what if they tell others? What if they burst out, 'what you?!'.
Then there were the initial chats, with clergy and others, about motivation - why? why now? why me? why this?
And then the Foundation Course, the gist of a theology degree by distance learning over a year. Church and Ministry; Biblical Studies; and perhaps scariest off all, Matrix of Christian Theology. At some points I expected men in black coats (or indeed white coats) to offer me the red pill if I wanted out, to wake up and remember nothing.
And more recently, the Bishops' Selection Conference. Two days at the beautiful Dromantine, where it really is pitch black when you switch the lights out, in the middle of rural County Down, with 16 other hopefuls, three bishops, and panels of other clergy and lay people. Lots of personal questions and a few curve balls, and unhealthy consumption of coffee as we all waited to hear from others as they emerged from interviews.
Ordination is one of those things I don't think I'll ever understand. It's enigmatic: as soon as you think you have it figured out, what it is and why, it eludes you again. But after all these years, after all the recent study and discernment, man did I want it!
The process has been a great one. By this point, if it had been a 'no' I'd have been gutted. Which says a lot really.