Yesterday I came home from work to a pleasant surprise. I received an acceptance letter from the religious order that I had applied to for membership.
I had begun to think that for some reason, the investigative process of the membership application had found me unsuitable. But, as it turns out, I was welcomed into the order.
I am including portions of the Acceptance Letter here, although I have deleted some parts, changed others, and censored or modified still others. My purpose in this is to leave the specific religiosity out of the picture entirely. I feel that this is best for a number of reasons. As I am sure that someone will send me an email asking me whether I am ashamed in some way of my particular religious beliefs, I will assure you now that I am not. I simply feel that in the context of this blog, it is not so important a part of what I am trying to convey that I feel that it is absolutely necessary to include it here. I do feel, however, that by deliberately not including, or alluding to my particular religious path, I avoid alienating readers who may follow a different path than the one that I follow. In this way, they can share my experiences within the framework of their own beliefs without feeling as though I am trying to preach to them, convert them, otherwise proselytize them, or in any way challenge their beliefs. As far as I am concerned, the important thing that I want to convey is the transformative process of undergoing a spiritual pathway... particularly a pathway that leads to one being ordained as a member of the clergy, such as this one. This will be a long pathway... encompassing years... before this happens, and I have a great deal to learn. I am very happy to have been accepted, and I feel that this is something positive and represents a new beginning in my life.
(and for those of you who are thinking that I have joined some strange cult that involves me giving away my personal possessions and the like.. it is not. And, if it were.. it wouldn't take long as I don't have much in the way of personal possessions to begin with!)
Here are the excerpts from my acceptance letter..
March 16, 2006
[City Where Headquarters of Unspecified Religious Order is located]
"We, the Triune Council, have reviewed your application for membership in the [Unspecified Religious Order]. We have read and evaluated your essays. You have demonstrated knowledge indicating you have read all documentation we have sent to you.
Based on your application, your essays, and your questionnaire, we are pleased to welcome you into the ranks of the [Unspecified Religious Order].
This is only the first step on a path that should, ultimately, become a way of life. We will work with you in any way necessary to help you as much as we can to achieve this goal. With any brotherhood, the person must fit the group and the group must fit the person. We hope that you will find all that you are looking for with us.
Once you have participated in the investigator's program you will be enrolled in the [deleted] course by one of our mentors. You'll be able to begin your lessons almost immediately.
From this moment on, you have the right to call yourself a [Title deleted] in the Order of [also deleted], although your actual rank in our Order is that of [Deleted](Beginning Student). How far and how fast you progress is up to you.
Your mentor is your primary teacher in all the [Unspecified Religious Order] has to offer. How much you utilize them is up to you. They will give assignments and will grade tests, and they will answer questions and read assignments. Do not be afraid to “bother” your mentor, which is what they are there to do.
Congratulations and Welcome!
The Triune Council"
Now the hard work begins! I am looking forward to getting started, and have no doubt that I will successfully complete all of the coming trials and tests. I am in good hands.
I have taken a step here, folks... and as of this moment, I am somewhat different than I was before. Although I live and work exist in this world, from here on out I will live and work and exist equally in the world of the spirit as well.
So. The decisions have been made. The first step has been taken. And now my journey begins.
It may seem odd to some that a person who spent much of his life as a soldier, learning to take the lives of others in various ways and practicing this craft with motivation and with vigour would turn to such a pathway, but, from what I have come to learn over the past few years, it is not actually so uncommon. I am just another person on the journey from warrior to priest.
I will let you know how this changes and affects me along the way.