Wednesday, August 1, 2012

More renewal leave reflections

Here's a portion of an email letter I sent to my congregation this morning, my first day back.

... As many of you know, I have for years met monthly with a spiritual director - someone who helps me to reflect on where and how the Spirit of God is speaking to my spirit. We met last week, and (as she often does) she gave an assignment - to reflect and write on the graces of this renewal leave. There have been many, many graces indeed during these last few months, and I thought I'd share a few of them with you as I re-enter life at Church Hill Church.
One of the primary graces has been time. I've had time do reading and significant self reflection. I have used the tools of the Enneagram, an ancient system for self understanding. I've journaled extensively and I have begun a practice of mindfulness meditation. There has been time to learn again to listen the inner voice of the Spirit. I've had time to read whatever I like. I have posted my renewal leave reading list on my blog here.
There has been time and space for creativity. I've written more about this in my blog. I've taken art classes, worked on "projects," talked about art and creativity with friends. I've visited museums and galleries to enjoy the creative expressions of others. Part of my self reflection has taken shape in collage and drawing and painting.

It has truly been a graceful gift to have time for people. Stewart and I spent two weeks in California, where our daughter Helen has settled. We met her friends, saw the places that are meaningful to her. We also reconnected with several old friends while we were there.

After more than 20 years in parish ministry, I had lost sight of how my unique schedule impacts relationships. With most of my family and friends working Monday - Friday while I work on the weekends, with only Friday off, I haven't had the time it takes to nurture relationships. It was a blessing to spend time with our daughters, to have evenings at home with Stewart. My sister, Beth, and I got together several times, including 4 days in Burlington, VT with our brother, Tom. I was able to go to a niece's housewarming, to help two good friends with the overwhelming task of moving house, and to reconnect with a number people who have been important support in the past. The renewing of relationships was perhaps one of the greatest graces of this renewal leave.
It also has been a grace to have these three months of time without hurrying. I didn't have to worry about leaving important items on my to-do list undone at the end of the day. I jokingly said that it took about the first four weeks of renewal leave before I felt like I'd taken my fingers out of the wall socket, and to feel truly relaxed. What a great blessing to refocus and re-calibrate and to listen for that "still, small voice" which is the Spirit of God and which almost always gets lost in busyness, hurry and stress.
So, friends, I thank you, for enabling me to have the grace of time. There's lots more to share, but mostly I look forward to learning what you have been doing, both individually and as a congregation. I look forward to the possibilities of the fall, and a new program year.


No comments:

Post a Comment