It's almost exactly two years since I took time apart to make a retreat. Two years ago I was in the middle of internship and God wisely planted the seed that it would be a good idea to stop mid-process and take time to reflect. More importantly to take time to listen, not to my own natterings, but to God's voice. I had never made a silent retreat before, and part of me was intrigued, but the extrovert in me was more than a little anxious. Yet I felt compelled to go. I even had the added opportunity to bail when a snow storm prompted them to call and tell me that I was still welcome, but if I was concerned about the roads, they understood. I could have a good reason to have bailed.
But I went and it was one of the richest experiences in deepening faith and discernment.
Now here I am, five months into my first call. And awhile ago I felt that same nudge to take time apart. Real time apart. It has been a blessing to know that a very gifted retired pastor who has joined the congregation will preach and lead worship. Since she is originally connected with them before her own calls, it is a gift to the congregation that she can be there. And it is a comfort to me that allows me to set aside any anxiety I have about going. Probably a good sign that going is not only good but necessary.
And there is much for me to ponder as I continue to be surprised and delighted by the unexpected things that serve as a steady reminder of how God is at work in the people, and in our collective ministry. At the same time, this wondrous activity brings a need for perspective so that our energy and our commitment are properly placed. As we prepare to engage in some unexpected but necessary changes, we will also be challenged as idea moves to reality. This is the curve of change Gil Rendle describes- I know that as we come down off of the mountain, there is a path down into the struggle of reality and the challenge to committed discipleship.
How well we care for each other and show grace will depend upon how we allow Christ to lead, how we are able to see God in all things, and how we engage the cross as mirror of existence and unbounded forgiveness.
Next Sunday it will be Transfiguration. The baffling mix of theophany and awe, joy and fear, followed by having to carry that little glimpse back into the overwhelming world that will still cry "Crucify!" And for every moment where I am moved by joy there are moments of heartbreak and the crushing realization that the world around me has problems that loom writ large. Too large for me, though not for God.
How will we hold onto Christ in our time when somewhere after blessed moments we remember everything else that tells us to let go, or that it won't last?
It is good to take time apart, in prayer, and in reflection and to silence my own words that crowd out God's, and to remember the myriad ways God uses to speak. So later today, I will point the Honda toward this place to meet God in the silence, where my focus will be "Experiencing God in All Things."