We All Wonder

By Amanda Wischkaemperbillboard 2

We all wonderreads the billboard peeking into view among the treetops, I-35 brake lights, and a distant view of the downtown skyline. The traffic crawls on my commute, and I snap a quick picture.

Around 10 months ago, I wondered, in spite of myself. This is a story of transformation-in-progress.

In September— on a whim— I clicked a link in an Episcopal News Service e-newsletter. I’d been happily leading and growing Children’s Ministries at St. James by-the-Sea in La Jolla, California for more than five years, with no active desire to leave my lifelong church or hometown. Mark and I were deeply entrenched professionally and socially in our respective communities of music and theatre, in addition to our church family. We had busy, rich, fulfilling lives.

The Spirit had other ideas. I wondered. I clicked. I read aloud to my husband as I skimmed through the job description and St. David’s website. Something stirred in both us— an excitement, a kinship? —while still thinking, “This is crazy!” Fall and early winter were dizzying, with application materials, phone interviews, and hours of discussion amid the busy Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany seasons.

On a mild night in early February, Mark and I found ourselves in Austin. After a full day of in-person meetings and interviews, Katie Wright dropped us off at our Town Lake motel. We were overwhelmed and near-speechless. All day we’d felt enveloped by Grace and the welcoming love of St. David’s. We walked in silence to Sandy’s for frozen custard, and brought it back to our room. We sat on the bed, trying to deconstruct every interaction and nuance of the day:  Did they like us? Did we like them? Was this what I was called to do? At a certain point, I fell asleep sitting up, ice cream in hand, utterly exhausted with the implications of this journey.

Over the next ten days, Mark was gung-ho. “Let’s do this. If they offer, I want to go.” I was terribly torn. Neither of us could think of a single reason not to go. But there were so many reasons to stay. Was I ready to leave everything behind for this new ministry/new church/new city/new everything? I truly did not know. I spent hours in discernment with family, friends, clergy, and alone. When I answered Katie’s call on Friday, February 15, I had no idea what I might answer, were I to receive an offer. Yet, the moment the offer was made, I was overwhelmed with calm and a peaceful—terrifying!—certainty. I mouthed to Mark, who was sitting nearby, “I want to go!” He mouthed back, “Are you sure??” I nodded. Resolutely. I had wondered, but the Holy Spirit knew exactly where I was going.

This is a story of transforming. Our lives at St. David’s are new and evolving. It has only been three months, and I sometimes look around and think, “What?! How did this happen!”

My husband and boss can both attest that I am a researcher, weighing all options. Why make a quick decision when I can look up reviews, comps, or consumer reports? It is not in my nature to go from the gut. But when the call came in, I knew. I was called. I accepted the job on the spot.

To put it another way: I took a leap of Faith.



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