It seems as though there are so few moments in our lives when we feel like we can completely relax and just be ourselves. I think that the reality is that we could live our entire lives, every moment, being just who we are and feeling completely relaxed as we are. In fact, if there is any such thing as “holiness,” “enlightenment,” or even “self-awareness,” this might just be it, the ability to be ourselves without feeling the slightest need to conform to others, to make others conform to us, to adjust who we are for the world, or to adjust the world to who we are.
I think if there is for me any sense of a “calling” into ministry, particularly to be an Episcopal priest, it tends to come back to this idea of creating sacred spaces. The most sacred space I can think of is one in which a person feels all of their psychological defenses drop and they can feel at ease to open themselves and be who they really really are. For Christians, this often takes the language of the unconditional grace and love of God. So, whether it is a worship service, spiritual direction, theological teaching, or even service toward others, the most fundamentally substantive thing a faith community can do is awaken the sense of unconditional acceptance. This is something so basic, so visceral, so primal in fact, that if it is lacking, everything else is only imitation. (Even here, though, to realize the deepest grace of God is to realize that even imitation does not escape the unconditional grace and love of God.)