Sitting in my church office between one task and another, I turn to look at the diploma for my M. Div. degree at Seattle University in 1999. Then back to my desk where my ordination certificate affirms my call to ministry in this church. Below that is a horizontal frame with three sequential photos of the laying on of hands at my ordination in May 2000. Both my parents are walking down the aisle, as well as my brother Dave. And there is Kathleen Southwick with Rod Romney, George Lawson, Ashlee Wiest-Laird with David Kile, Renna Pierce, and Gretchen Gundrum, my colleague and friend.
Shall I take that picture home with me? What shall I leave; what shall I take home?
I’ve forgotten what I’m supposed to be doing, so I wander over to my bookcase to look for inspiration. I pick out a book and take it to my desk, leafing aimlessly through it.
This is my life now: wandering between two callings, my ministry and my retirement—which is, wherever I find myself? This is a classic example of the transition between one part of life and another; between a familiar routine and the discovery of a new one I have yet to create. I’ve written about transition a number of times in my 17 years here, and accompanied others on the same journey. We all find ourselves in the in-between time.
The prospect of stepping away from my calling is daunting. And yet it offers promise as well as return.
I trust that your love supports me, and I know my faith does. Else what would I have been sharing with you all these years? Where am I going now? I am in no hurry because I have learned to trust processes that take time. It will take time for me to let go of the endless planning of calendars, to stop looking to be sure I’ve not forgotten one of you, to reflect for weeks on scripture before I deliver a sermon.
But I long for rest. Long conversations that nourish my soul. Worshiping in other churches or sometimes, nowhere at all, until the winter of 2016. Then we will return. This is our community, our safe place and our growing edge, where God calls us beyond the familiar to the new. We’ll be back.
I look around the walls of my office at the watercolor from Jackie Brooks, a dream catcher I made at one of our Lenten retreats, the evocative picture of a tightrope walker, a collection of small crosses. I cherish the conversations that have flourished here, the groups that surprised me with their care for one another, and the sermons that have taken shape at this desk.
I love this space. It is a warm, safe and comfortable home away from home. But it is time to move on into the new and unexplored places where God entices Ardene and me to walk.
God never stops calling us—and you—forward into the unknown, where we find more in ourselves than we ever imagined. Since “...there is no path to God that is not first God’s path to us....”
...I trust the paths I follow will lead me home. (John S. Mogabgab, Weavings (July/August, 1992), 2)