Two days ago (Tues Oct. 27th) I was driving south from Amarillo after sleeping in my car by the side of the road. I had come to the final hours of a ten-day spiritual retreat I had taken through New Mexico and Colorado. Along with powerful sharing with other clergy and their spouses, and incredible moments of communing with nature, I had opportunities while in solitude to go deeply into my own memories of times of falling, painful brokenness and experiences of rising up into new life. My experiences of God’s healing and guiding grace were transforming for me. And I sense that we all need “Anam Cara” or soul friends — others to pay attention to and support one another in our faith journeys. Now, as I move back into “normal routines” in Fort Worth, I’m aware of a huge challenge.
How do I keep this fresh sense of wonder, gratitude, communion, flow, and sense of calling alive, as I am challenged by a legion of too-often competing needs around me? I’m all too aware that I can get lost in the mire. But I sense that if I am prayerfully intentional about soul care (that is, being truly present to God’s loving Presence, instead of being rushed and distracted with many things), it will most likely help open my awareness and ability to discern better in whatever the new moments may bring . . . wherever I am.
In other words, what sort of boundaries on busy-ness are needed to help me witness the sacred moments and rhythms of God’s ongoing calling and creation of new life? How might I nurture what is best about my recent retreat time, so it might shape the priorities within my “normal routines”? And how might that help me grow as an instrument of God’s Peace . . . ?
Early this morning, my wife Beka left for Oklahoma City as a delegate to the United Methodist General Conference. She, her brother, Rev. John Miles, our Senior Pastor Dr. Tim Bruster, and many other leaders from our Jurisdiction are meeting there in preparation for General Conference, our worldwide gathering that takes place every four years (this time will be May 2016 for ten days in Portland.) For more about GC16, click here.
Eight years ago at this time, many people in our area were preparing to host UM General Conference 2008. I, along with others, were charged to lead prayer ministries and create sacred spaces for prayerful presence at the conference. We learned much and were blessed in many ways through that challenge. Perhaps one of the most significant realizations from that experience, is that if we are to be a faithful, dynamic church, called by and through God, we must become more intentional about the “architecture” of our time. If we are to become more aware of and responsible to God’s ongoing call to us, we must put boundaries on our rush of “chronos”. We must give higher priority to spiritual retreats and living in sacred rhythms that enable us to flow in grace, and be instruments of God’s Peace. It is not our own cleverness that will enable us to do “the right thing” and transform our institutions for the better, but our humble openness to God’s loving Presence and guidance, and our own growing commitment to become a more deeply discerning, Body of Christ in the world . . . More on that later . . .
In the meantime . . . and afterwards . . . please keep our United Methodist General Conference and all participants in prayer for working together and discerning God’s guidance . . .
Grace and peace,