I have been a social worker, with a varied practice, for over 40 years. Suffice it to say that I am somewhat of an extrovert, with a love for meeting, relating and living with family, friends, colleagues and even casual acquaintances. As a social worker, I developed a skill set and method to connect with individuals and to help them connect with each other. My passion, which I try to live out daily, is to allow people to come up with solutions to problems that disallow them from living a what I call a “full life.”
You know, the profession of social work’s claim to fame is the theory “Person-in-Environment” or PIE. Not only does the social worker relate and deal with the person but also the environment and relationships he or she lives with; those intimate realities of life that affect the “personhood.” Once, I was trying to explain this to a client when we were sitting next to a pond and talking story. So, I took a stone and threw it in the water. As it landed and made concentric circles in the water, I said, “This is what you and I do when we meet. We make these concentric circles.” He understood right away. We must have thrown at least 30 stones in the pond, between the two of us!
So my passion, still, even after years of social work, is to “make and eat PIE” with folk. Three years ago, after a period of theological and faith formation, I was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. I found that my passion for God and Faith was combined and integrated with my passion for people and life. In my way of living a “full life,” I find that my priesthood allows me to practice a kind of “divine” social work, in that I am connecting people with each other and with God. The PIE I now “make and eat” becomes pastoral and sacramental with and for others.
Not long ago, I was at a meeting of social workers, and a couple of colleagues asked for my opinion as a priest. Naturally, we started getting into the PIE of the issue and I focused on the stone thrown in the pond as a metaphor. Then I asked my colleagues to consider what would happen when the stone is thrown in the water vigorously — with verve and gusto! Ah, then our discussion took on dimensions that heard us talking about water “leaping up” and stones “coming out” and concentric circles becoming “irregular and converging.” There we were, professionals, discussing very secular things and mixing it up with somewhat theological and numinous realities.
Yes, my “life is full.” It is full for the people, in relationship with each other, that I know and meet. Yes, I “make and eat PIE” whenever I can.