Strange as it may seem, this is the most helpful question I've been asked during my discernment. It seems a small thing, really--almost an aside. Do you have the impulse to consecrate the bread and wine? It takes a whopping ten minutes per service--hardly dominating the priest's schedule. And yet, it's one of the main things. This question cuts through the confusion around orders of ministry--the muddiness generated by our tendency to define the orders by task and role, not what I call "heart stance." What the question really asks is: on the sacramental level, are you a priest?
Some folks have suggested my answer should be "Yes." I tend to be a take-charge kinda girl. I'm comfortable leading worship, preaching, praying, and doing all the other stuff that wraps around the Eucharist. I'm a passable thurifer (incense swinger). Once, in a pinch, I even chanted the psalm--by myself, in front of everybody--and I didn't die and the congregation didn't run screaming from the pews. But when I'm at that table, I don't want to be the one to invoke God's blessing. I can't tell you why.
I want to be the quiet servant--the one who is always in the right place at the right time, who moves along with the priest anticipating her needs, always ready to hold a book, turn a page, lift a chalice. I want to be the one who smooths the liturgy so that it seems effortless, the one who mutes distractions so that the focus is on God.
I prepare the way for the priest, setting the table, pouring wine. And, a proper servant, I clean up afterwards, restoring chalice and paten to their places, covering the consecrated host. And in between, there's the moment where I enact the deacon's call. Receiving the chalice from the priest, I carry it beyond the chancel to the people, each step a sign of the breach I'm called to cross each day.