Thursday, June 23, 2011


As I've mentioned elsewhere, words aren't enough. Instead, I provide pictures, images, photographs that try to capture the mystery and glory of my ordination. The above is an image of the very start of the service, before any of the students had entered. You get a small sense of the grandeur of this church.

So many people attended! The church sits 1500, I believe, and we had the first half of the pews stuffed to capacity, and the rest were reasonably filled as well. When we entered, as "ministers to be," we had to walk down the center aisle, the entire length of the chapel. It was mind numbing seeing all those people. Yes, I'd seen the church before (I was a presenter last year of one of the sacred books), and I'd been in it earlier in the day, but that's not the same as being robed and coiffed and having everyone stare at you!

After we had processed in, sat down, and had the opening comments, we all stood once more and walked to the front of the chapel and sang, "Here I Am, Lord." I was floored by how beautiful we sounded, despite having quite a number of us who don't really sing at all. I was lucky enough to be in the front group of ladies (you can just barely see us to the right and ahead of the choir). Again, note how the church seems to rise up around us, so huge!

We ladies had two verses we sang, and then the entire class joined in on the chorus. In in the front, there, with the teal stole and amber necklace... and staff.

Dean Julie was my Dean this year, and she spoke so eloquently about us. She ended with, "Congratulations to each one of you. Congratulations to us all who now reap the benefits of your journey. You have arrived. You are ready. And you are the Divine's Love manifested. Amen!"

Dean Roots is the other second year Dean, and he was a true inspiration to all of us. He was serious, intense, intent, present, sometimes funny and irreverent in a most reverent kind of way. I learned a lot from listening and following him.

After more songs and readings, the moment of truth came. Our teachers and leaders came around and blessed each of us, called out our names, and laid hands upon us. This is Sarah, my friend from NYC who has been my rock during some truly difficult times. She is receiving her blessing from Rabbi Roger, who was not only her instructor these two years, but also her employer!

I had just been anointed in this image, and Rabbi Roger was announcing my own name: Reverend Michelle Allyson Szabo. What a moment. I'm glad the picture isn't amazing, because none of you can blow it up and see that I was crying big, fat tears of joy.

Dean Deb was kissing a fellow student, but you can just see the edge of me between her and Rabbi Roger, clutching my staff in white-knuckled, blissed out hands. I had survived, and the reality of the whole thing was sinking in.

Here Father Giles laid hands on me and passed along the joy of ministry to me. It was a moment of both terror and extreme joy.

Just after he was done, he took my hands and said some private words to me. I found blessings for HIM rising in my throat, and so I did bless him before he moved on.

After we all sat down there was a presentation of awards before we stood and formally blessed the staff of the New Seminary, our guests who attended that day, and then one another. There were 35 of us, singing the blessings of the Universe to all beings.

Then our drum song began, and we sang loudly. As the saying goes, "We went NOT quietly from that place!" Pictured here is one of my classmates, Sala, dancing in the African style. She led us back down that long aisle as we played drums, clapped, sang, and pounded our staves. We were LOUD.

We all made a circle outside the sanctuary proper, our drummer in the middle, and sang and sang until we were out of breath. There I am, third in from the left, if you look closely.

Rev. Annie stopped for a picture with me, which truly made me smile. Though she wasn't my Dean last year, she was someone that I could talk to, someone who espoused much of what it means to be a minister.

The necklace is from my grandmother, a stone and setting from Scotland, one that she got from her mother when she was younger. I've had it for many years, but have worn it rarely. I wanted to carry a piece of her with me into my ordination, as she couldn't be with me that day. The pin on my stole is a silver and teal insect given to me by my daughter at Christmas a year or two ago. I have made a practice of always wearing something she gave me, whenever I have stood up professionally, and this one was perfect.

That's my ordination in pictures.