Empty Nest

Last year in May, I travelled to Baltimore for the annual meeting of Interfaith Ministers. It was a lovely event. There were some new faces and some well known. The highlight of the event is, to me, the simple grace of the ordination of the new ministers. As one of the first from AIHT. I will always have a special place in my heart for that experience. There were many more parts of the weekend which were as enjoyable. Just being at a new venue and staying at a delightful hotel added to the overall memories . Best of all, I was able to spend some time with my friend, who picked me up in New York and drove both of us to Baltimore.
As I have learned over the years, road trips are great opportunities to chat and get to know someone better, even a good friend. Spending hours in the confines of a car, while being watchful of the dangers of the road, the possibilities of getting lost and the need to find a timely washroom, inevitably brings two people closer together. You don’t always have to be talking but you do have to communicate.
When I started out on that journey, I was not writing any particular story but the long drive gave rise to a need to continue with another instalment in my Beauty and the Beast (Fanfiction) series. I had no shortage of ideas but I can’t write without a lead in title. I suppose every author has something which triggers their thought process. For me, a few words can convey a whole range of ideas.
In the car, during a long forgotten discussion, my friend said, ‘I suppose that is just a slight variation of normal’. I was hooked. Slight Variations of Normal was born and the story flowed from there. Sometimes the flow was slowed by internal power outages but living life fully always provides a clue to the heart of the next chapter. Sometimes it is in a dream, sometimes in a conversation with a total stranger, sometimes in personal experiences which touched the heart and soul.
So I am always grateful to the people who move in and out of my life and share their stories. I am also grateful to the those who have crossed over for sending their stories through my dreams. I hear you and hope that I have done justice to your struggles and triumphs.
It is now a year later. Slight Variations of Normal is complete. Like any creation which originates in our soul, I am euphoric to see the final product. It is my longest story to date. I am also saddened that something which had occupied so much of my time is now gone. It’s like saying goodbye to a child heading off to college or to get married. Empty nest again.

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First again

Reverend Judith Andrade,  My Ordination Journey.

Over the weekend of October 1-2 2011,
the second of my firsts came to fruition. Imagine at my great young middle age,
having the opportunity to participate in something new, something never done
before with an amazing group of people I never met for the second time in less
than three months!  My ordination as an
interfaith minister was as challenging as it gets.

Although I had been  ordained in 1999 through The International
Assembly of Spiritual Healers and Earth Stewards, I didn’t take my divinity
degree until 2002-4, when  I realized a
dream to build a new and unique Ministry for and by women. The additional
training added a wonderful dimension to the work. The whole plan started to blossom
in 2004 only to have it shattered with the
sudden and unexpected death of my co-collaborator, dear friend and business
partner.

Everything was put on hold. For the first three years I was shattered, feeling
that perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. Then one day, I woke up, like Buddha and
wondered why I thought all the dreams we shared as friends  should end. Some dreams die with people who
share our goals, some have to be adjusted and some should go on in order to
honour the person and keep their spirit alive. This dream we had of helping
women and men to overcome trauma and childhood abuse was worthy and needed. Our
vision was not for ourselves but for how we could help others.

So I started on projects which clearly got me back on the right track. I
completed and published my two novels, The Will To Be True/In The Shadow of the
Blackbird and a third, Suspect, Love. Just as I completed my third book and
pitched it at the first ever ‘Pitchfest’ organized by my publisher in Hollywood,
I was offered a chance to be ordained
with the seminary where I completed my degree, something which was not
available at the time I graduated.

How do they connect?  The novels relate stories
of strong women who have overcome childhood traumas and succeeded where they
thought the status quo was the only option. On completing the books and having
them published, I was inspired to complete my own paths and fulfill my dreams.

Getting to the point of ordination was not easy. We were given three months to
complete herculean tasks (well it seemed that way to me). With much focus, I
finished the required courses, books, and services. ( I mean, who needed to
write another 10,000 word essay after writing a 100,00 word book). I mailed my
last assignment two days before the deadline and blamed Canada Post for not
getting it there on time. I wasn’t the only one but the College faculty were
beyond understanding and so patient with all of us because this whole
ordination things was new for them too.

Our group was just amazing. We were from all walks of life, sharing different
histories, but working with common purpose to prepare for our graduation and
bring our strengths to a multi-faith service in which we all took part.  I never met any of my colleagues but knew all
of them by voice. With very few hitches, we were all ordained by the hardworking
Director and Administrative Director of the College through the support of A
World Alliance of Interfaith Clergy.

Change and challenge are always
wonderful exercises which allow us to observe the strength of the human spirit.  As humans we are blessed with the ability to
look back at where we started and see where we reach then use that impetus to
move us forward. What will always please me is the chance I had to be first
again and pave the way for others. I am mindful in these later years of my life
that I must follow the example and goals set as a standard for life by my pioneering
grandmother way back in 1927. If I emulate her courage even for a day, I hope I
have made her proud of me.