Many years ago my spiritual director encouraged me to go on a retreat she was putting on. Lisa and I both went. During the retreat we were asked to share one of our greatest fears. I was new in ministry, had undergone a profound spiritual crisis, found a Catholic nun as my spiritual director, started reading Merton and all that he read, and felt myself drifting away from center.
My response? I was afraid of becoming a heretic. I was in the Presbyterian Church where exact precision in theology was key, so this felt like a real threat not only to my own faith, but also my career. My spiritually director, Sr. Marie, calmed my fears by assuring me that as long as I remained truthful to who I am, kept examining myself, and desired to know the truth, that I would be fine. Others might call me a heretic, but as long as I got to where I was with integrity, a clear conscience, and with wisdom and compassion as my guides, there was nothing to fear. I would be at peace. I must trust.
She probably didn’t realize it at the time, but she was a prophet. This is exactly what has happened. Others call me a heretic. In fact, as Merton says, I myself would have called me a heretic if I could see the me I am now then.
But now? I am not afraid. I am at peace.