Monday, 20 February 2012

Finally!....well maybe

I've spent most of this week extremely ill, a state which affirms my belief that airplanes are nothing more than flying incubation chambers for viruses and germs.  The down side is that I'm now horrifyingly behind in my work and I missed what appears to have been a fabulous Clergy Retreat.  The up side was that I had lots of time to gnaw away at the bone that is my decision about applying for the position at Church over the Big Hills.

I've been see-sawing all maybe.  I've spoken to my kids, who sadly all said "go for it".  It really would have been nicer if they had said, "Oh, Mom, we'll miss you so much, but we understand and support you no matter what you decide."  But that's just vanity.  Wise daughter gave me something to ponder though.  She said, "Mom, if you think that you will regret not doing this, then you have to at least apply."  Now that really got me thinking.

As the week unfolded, I was showered by messages of love and concern, and soup and jams and sushi(!) from members of the parish who were concerned about me.  When I got to church yesterday morning I was met with cries of joy "She lives!"  Over this week I came to realize not only how wonderful these people are, but how far we've come together.  I've come to know them very well, I know who gets along with whom and why, I've learned who rubs who the wrong way and how to intervene before things get out of hand.  I think I'm at the place where (with God's grace) I can begin to bring this group of people together to become more than a gathering of "like minded individuals", but to be Christ's Body in this place, and I think that  the trust and love we've built up over the past 3 years will make this process easier.

So, when I have been considering the whole area of regrets, I've been thinking less about the regrets of not applying to Church over the Big Hills, and more about the regrets I would have if I did leave St. Teeny at what I think is a vulnerable time.  I'm not prideful enough to believe that in some way my leaving or staying would sound the death knell for the congregation, BUT, over the past 3 years we've built up some trust and I think that the basis of that trust may be important as the future unfolds.  I feel as though the change process is well under way and if I left now, it may derail the forward momentum we've built up.

THEN, this morning I was doing some contemplative prayer and Jesus words about "follow me" and yoke sharing came to mind.  It was accompanied with a picture of a forked road.  I asked "Which path?" and the words "The road less travelled" came to me.  "And what is the road less travelled?" I wondered, to which came the response "The path of love."    As I considered this, I realized that the path of love is the path of self-giving and service to in this place...and not somewhere on the other side of the big hills.


Friday, 17 February 2012

Friday Five

For today's Friday Five, tell us about your times of release or detachment (freedom!).....

It happened many years ago, but the feeling of freedom and release that I experienced when my (then) husband and I packed up the children and all our worldly possessions and moved to a remote ranch in the middle of the windswept prairie remains with me to this day when I think of being detached.  After being very much caught up in the stresses and deadlines of city life for more than 30 years, the feeling of freedom was overwhelming.  I remember waking up that first morning on the ranch with the whole day stretching out in front of me like a blank page of paper.  Of course it didn't last, all too soon, we were caught up in all the activities of rural life, school buses, community meetings, assisting neighbours, agricultural politics, etc. etc.  But I still remember the feeling of freedom that came from waking to discover that the day was waiting for me to write upon it what I would wish.

Today, is my day off.  I've been very sick all week and suspect that I'm still contagious so even though I'm feeling much better, I'm going to spend the day just "puttering" around the house.  In some ways I am experiencing that same sense of release and freedom from the need to do that I felt those many years ago when the day stretched out in front of me like the blue prairie sky.

How do I find release in the following ways?

1. physical -  in the water!  One of the advantages of a higher fat to muscle ratio is that you float!  For me there is nothing quite as physically freeing as playing around in the water, whether it be deep water aerobics, or (the very best) snorkelling in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico with my RevGal Pals.

2. spiritual - walking in nature, meditating with prayer beads, painting icons  

3. emotional - writing and/or talking with dear and trusted friends

4. vocational - I find that ministry offers me the much the same opportunity to experience the freedom I experienced on the ranch.  As single pastor at St. Teeny Church, I pretty well get to organize my day the way I want to.  However, that doesn't mean that I'm not busy, I have a propensity to overbook myself and to take on far too much.  So, I try to book at least one or two periods a week where I can sit down with a good book and read.

5. relationships -  This isn't a problem.  I am single, and live alone, and as a strong introvert, it is easy for me to simply come home, pull the blinds down and retreat into the world I've made for myself.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Decisions, decisions!

This blog is a way to keep in touch with all my RevGal pals who were so supportive of me when I talked to them about the possibility of applying for another ministry position.  This whole journey (such as it is) began a few weeks ago when it became very obvious at a Vestry meeting that it was not going to be possible for the good folks of Tiny Church to present a balanced budget.  At that time it looked as though the shortfall would be $12K.  (Since then a renewed stewardship request brought it down to $5K...but still).

I went home feeling just sick about it.  Since I've been at Tiny Church, the congregation has shrunk considerably, mostly because of deaths.  I honestly can't think of anyone who has left the congregation other than because of moving or death since I came, but; some folks have been less regular in their attendance since I came.  The reasons are varied and quite another story, but by and large, I don't think it's because of anything I've done...but; well you know how it is.....

To continue my story, after a long, sleepless and prayer filled night (largely of the sorts "Oh God, what am I going to do!), I finally got up at about 4 am and checked out the denominational "job listings" site.  And what popped up?  My dream position!  So what's the question you ask?  Well, I wish I knew....even though everyone I've spoken to (including my family) says "Go for it", I'm still hesitant.  I feel loyalty to Tiny Church, they have potential, and I've put together a plan for us to work through to try to vision what the future might hold, I've gained a good deal of trust and respect from them and I think they are a healthier congregation than when I first arrived.   AND I love the little house I've renovated and moved into.  In short, in spite of all the challenges, I'm comfortable....

And yet, the other position in the city across the mountains beckons.  It is exactly the kind of position I think God has been preparing me for, most of the work and further ed I've been doing over the past year have been leading in this direction.  I love the idea of living in this city, the parish has been in an interim position for quite a while and done a lot of work on visioning, and I think I will fit in better theologically in that place.

So, tomorrow, I'm going to screw up my courage and call my Bishop and have a chat about applying.  I'll let you know how it goes.