Thank you Zion for your warm welcome back to me, after my sabbatical, and also for your cards and texts while I was away. Thank you for allowing me to experience quality time to focus on my personal and spiritual growth. This came in the form of:
Taking time to be silent and still; cooking, resting, spending time with Craig, reading, exercise, and letting go of a daily work routine.
Nurturing the discipline of self-reflection: I attended a 6 day “Path to Self Discovery and logged over 78 pages of journaling in a class of 4 women. This process is called holistic depth psychology. This method allows for an inner perspective to guide people through transitions that develop creative potential and draw forth new sparks of the Spirit as they move toward becoming whole persons. I also valued my meetings with a spiritual director (Sister Joan at Benedictine Sisters)
An openness to learn from the experience of others and be equipped in stronger pastoral counseling and professional ethics skills; My instructor, Fr. Ray Carey, a priest of Salem, who speaks internationally regarding the topics of pastoral counseling and is active as a therapist, brought his style of teaching through personal stories. I found this to be very valuable.
Visiting other churches on Sundays, was a blessing! I appreciated the opportunity to meet new people and observe a variety of worship styles and teaching/preaching. It was good to experience what a weekend is like without needing to be responsible for others.
Phoenix and Borderland Tour: While my classes were very good, they limited the opportunity to travel. So in mid April, wanting to experience something different and away, Craig and I decided to hop on a plane and spend a week in Arizona, reconnecting with friends from Trinity Mennonite, where we attended 1986-1990; and then with Jack and Linda Knox, in Douglas Arizona, for our very own personal borderland tour. We spent each morning walking 9 blocks to pray at the border wall; we visited a migrant shelter and shared a meal with migrants; we talked with Border Patrol officers; visited Café Justo – a farmer-owned coffee collective; we participated in the weekly vigil to remember people who have died in the desert; and debriefed each evening with Jack and Linda. Through the Knoxs’ example, Craig and I witnessed a refreshing alternative to everything the border wall stands for. Jack and Linda serve as a bridge over troubled water, helping steady others who encounter the many stumbling blocks created by border tensions, hardships and bureaucracy. Rather than adding to tension, they are building relationships one person at a time: child or adult, male or female, whether others are loosening or binding, Jack and Linda are offering Christ’s love and compassion.
Here is a prayer that was meaningful to me during my time away;
Lord, it is night, The night if for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; Let it be. The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you. The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace. The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities. In your name we pray. Amen
Thank you for granting me, this sabbatical, to be renewed and refreshed; May God give each of us new energy and imagination as we look ahead and anticipate His spirit working among us.