In December of 1994 I made my first trip to Guatemala, for a meeting about the program I coordinated for the Presbyterian Church. After the meeting, some of us did a little tour to a few parts of the country, spending the night in Panajachel on Lake Atitlán. We arrived in the afternoon while all the little outdoor stalls were still open selling their beautiful wares. My co-workers and I wandered through the streets trying not to buy everything in sight.
It was on towards sunset when we came up to a stall near the lakeshore, hung all over with woven stoles. My boss and I stopped and looked for a long time. Finally, I said, "I'm going to buy one. You know, just in case I might need it some day." She smiled. We both knew the possibility of me being ordained in the PC(USA) was unlikely, unless I stayed stuffed in a closet, which we also both knew was unlikely. Nevertheless, I bought one, in an extreme act of hope I suppose, a bright rainbow-y one that laid across the top of my desk for the next 6 or so years.
I gave that stole away in May 2000. I gave it to the pastor in Portland as a gift for being so kind to my cielo. Plus, I figured that I would not actually need it, having been unceremoniously dumped from my job at that same time, making clear to me that my person, my self, was not wanted. I didn't even know yet, then, that I would leave the PC(USA) for the UCC. I didn't know that I would come to love the UCC, that I would heal from the pain of leaving my childhood denomination, that I would find my way back to my path that would eventually lead me to where I am now.
Now, I have a whole set of Guatemalan stoles -- bright green/blue, darker green/black (for fall ordinary time!), deep purple, white, red, and yes, another rainbow-y one -- hand-picked by my cielo's brother in Guate and sent to me at my request before I began working at HappyChurch. HappyChurch allowed me to wear stoles as a sign of my ministerial authority even though I am not yet ordained, and I have also worn them at my new church. The red one graced BlueEyes' neck and the rainbow-y one TheologyBabe's during the great Transform columbus day Protest of 2007:
The red one is now my "official" protest stole, which I wear in marches and speaking at city council meetings...and which I carried at my trial. I also have a massively large red stole from Mexico, whichI bought from the weaver in Cuernavaca and which I wore at the 2007 protest:
I'm digressing, slightly: The point is, back in 1994 I bought a stole, in absurd hope, which I then gave away, having lost hope. And now here I am just a few more steps from being ordained.
Tonight, the HappyChurch council voted to approve the partnership between my church and theirs, which will make it possible for them to call me as the new church start pastor. The conference meets on Saturday (note to UCC polity geeks, my conference doesn't have any associations, in which this responsibility usually lies) and will vote whether or not to approve. And Sunday HappyChurch has its congregational meeting to vote to approve my call. No one expects any hiccups. One woman on the HappyChurch council said, "If the congregation doesn't approve this, I will fall down in a dead faint."
So. There you go.