Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Deacon in the Census Supply Room

I am now on my second stint with the U.S. Census Bureau. First, I was an enumerator, going from household to household helping to update the Census maps. In late October I was hired as one of eight clerks to open and develop the Santa Fe, NM office. I was given the job of managing the Supply Room, receiving and organizing enormous amounts of inventory with some shipments arriving in over one hundred 40-50 pound boxes (which I had to unstack, open, inventory and then restack in ways the forms and supplies would be available to the operation.

There have been major learnings for me in this. First, it was good to be at the bottom of an organization -- especially as a seminary trained Harvard graduate (three of us eight clerks are Harvard graduates!). Second, I soon realized that my work from that Supply Room into the working areas was essentially that of ordained ministry! The first realization was the diaconal character of my work, doing the menial work in support of the body of the organization. I am being paid $9.35 an hour as a servant minister. Throughout most days I could feel the heart of my diaconal ministry (transitional but very, very real for over forty years) being expressed in a very secular setting. Then I realized that this was priestly service as well -- everything I did was to equip and enable the work of the body of clerks, supervisors, managers and the rest. The joy and the humility of my decades of priestly service of equipping and enabling lay ministry (both diaconal and priestly in character, themselves) is now being relived as "The Supply Guy."

My Point: my life as an ordained leader in the Episcopal Church and my spiritual understanding of my life as clerk would have been greatly diminished without my early months in the diaconate -- and the knowledge that my diaconal calling was not overridden by my priesthood, but central to it.

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