In Service.

I have made bright Ma’at which Ra loves, I know that He lives by it;
it is my bread too; I eat of its brightness.

Inscription of Hatshepsut at Speos Artemidos
The public washing of hands marks my official consecration of a w’ab priest.

10 years ago yesterday, I stood before the Shrine of the Truth and the Mother, taking a vow of service to my gods. I am stunned that somehow, while I wasn’t paying attention, 10 years crept by — and now I have spent a decade in the service of the Netjeru.

But life changed. My household was significantly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. My father, also my employer, became seriously ill, and I stepped into his role at work. I moved into a 1-bedroom apartment with my fiancé. I got married. I did a year-long unpaid internship. I finished graduate school. I got seriously ill (and recovered, dua Netjer). I moved into a bigger apartment with my husband. I started working in my field. I changed jobs. I bought a house. I moved again. And now, a global pandemic. Not to mention the challenges within the religion itself during that time — changes and conflict are a matter of course when you work with other people, and the temple is no exception.

I struggled at times. I found myself feeling like it was impossible to continue my service some days because I could not maintain the consistency with which I first approached the priesthood. If I couldn’t live up to what I had done in my first year of service, how could I call myself a good priest? If I couldn’t observe every festival, show up for every event, greet every sunrise — how was I carrying ma’at to my gods and Their people?

When I came to the priesthood, I assumed that integrating that work into my life would mean establishing strict routines and prioritizing religious work over other things. I tried that, for a while; it didn’t work. I am a human being before I am a priest; a human who wants to be in relationship with others, have hobbies, and have a meaningful career. At some point in the last year — I couldn’t pinpoint if I tried — I dropped that approach. I dropped the judgment. I set boundaries for myself. If I go to work, I don’t go to shrine; if I don’t go to work, I go to shrine. I think that eased the pressure for me; now instead of judging myself for “missing shrine” five out of seven days of the week, I celebrate when I go both Saturday and Sunday. It also taught me that the trick to service is not in pushing harder, or doing more, but in being deliberate and finding that sweet spot of balance. Ma’at, anyone?

I am grateful for the growth that being a priest has permitted me — personally, professionally, and spiritually. I am proud and honored to serve the gods in ritual, and in all I do. I am optimistic that as I continue this work, I can continue to carry my gods to the people who love Them, continue to grow, and continue to serve Them to the best of my ability.

(I’m also hoping to write more — even short snippets here and there — because I really do miss blogging. So hello again — I hope I can be more present here this year.)

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