Tony Bradford receives his masters in Consciousness Studies on Saturday June, 9, 2012 and also in preparation to formally becoming a Religious Science Minister. With Rev. Elouise Oliver (R) Senior minister at East Bay Church of Religious Science and Rev. Dr. John B. Waterhouse (L).
This past Saturday, June 9, 2012, I attended my friend Tony Bradford's ministerial school graduation. Additionally, it was also a little bit more than just a symbolic precursor to his formal ordination into the Religious Science ministry. I, in this essay, am going to focus on the ministry/ordination part even though the ceremony this past Saturday was not the formal ordination.
Tony and I had already known each other when his calling began to be consciously birthed and recognized by him. So I am fortunate to have witnessed the entire evolution and process of awareness that occurred in him that led him to the auspicious event that occurred in the afternoon of June 9, 2012 in Oakland, California at Heart and Soul Center of Light. I have witnessed his entire process. And this witness is what I have been both thinking intensely about for the pat several days and it is also what I desire to focus on here in this writing.
I have been to more ordinations than most people, I am imagining. I myself studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood for many years. I attended the ordinations of many seminarians who were one or more years ahead of me in our collective study for Catholic ministry. I have attended many other ordinations of many others; men and women, who have been ordained in various other denominations, other religions, other spiritual traditions, other wisdom traditions, including American Indian, pagan and Maori ceremonies.
It is always the same. The ordination, the ceremony, at root is always an occasion, where the one who is being ordained is publicly acknowledging his or her commitment, in front of the members of the community, specifically and with deliberate intention, in front of the members of the community, to being of service to the entire community, to the best of their ability. Those from the community, in turn, who actually physically witness the ordination/ceremony in person are the representatives of the entire community, who usually cannot all attend, to bare witness to the fact that this person has indeed showed up and has essentially said, "Yes, I am here for you---each and every one of you. My life is now officially no longer my own. It belongs to each and every one of you, both those of you who are in this very room as well as those who for whatever reasons, could not be present here today." This is the core essence of an ordination service.
That is extraordinarily powerful. It is one of the handful of activities that we know literally occurs in every single culture on the planet; among every single tribe of people in the world. It is universal and so it is also extremely tied to who we are as a people.
Breathe in, breathe out.
The people who planned this particular graduation ceremony were absolutely and completely and totally aware and marvelously conscious of everything I have said here up to this point. They understood what was symbolically happening as well--a preparation for formal introduction into the ministry. And they proved with unabashed splendor their awareness of all of this by including in the service a musical selection entitled deceptively simply---"Yes." And it was performed, by Queen Michelle Jordan, of The East Bay Church of Religious Science in Oakland, California, in a way that left no doubt...no doubt whatsoever, why we had each both individually and collectively been gathered in that space. We were there to witness Tony and his co-graduates, Willa Barber Johnson, Molly Cate, Toni Lynn Cormier and Elizabeth Rowley, symbolically say YES!
Life, I believe, does not get more meaningful than this. And So It Is...