After a Sunday afternoon cortado at a new coffee shop here in town, I walked down to the river simply to enjoy the day. I went down the few steps to the walkway at the river’s edge, passed a woman looking at her phone while smoking, waved at a father and daughter canoeing, exchanged smiles with a young couple, and then I saw her standing a bit further on. An older woman, she stood quite still looking across the river. As I neared, she looked at me and we met with smiles.
In the fullness of time…
Have you ever had a desire to do something and you wanted to do it now, or there was something you wanted and you wanted it now, however for whatever reasons, known or unknown, now was not the time? I have certainly experienced the frustration that can go with the thwarting of my desires. I have also faced questions when something seemed the perfect answer or direction, yet I could not go there at the time. It then comes as a surprise almost when it does open up in the fullness of time.
Random thought in the midst of transition:
My sister-in-law Barbara and I were close to finishing our journey with Frodo and Sam to the fires of Mordor where the ring of power could be unmade. As they stood overlooking the valley which they had to traverse, orc encampments with their fires nearly filled the space. The two hobbits were daunted by the sight, wondering how they could possibly make it to Mount Doom, when Sam said simply, “Let’s start by going down this hill.” Every journey, no matter how long or hard, starts with a single step. I was reminded of a piece of sage advice from 12-step programs—“one day at a time.”
As I stand at the beginning of this next phase of my pilgrimage, I find myself peering ahead with Frodo and Sam wondering how I am going to make it through all the changes which loom before me. Like them, and those who have gone before me, all I can do is take one step, one day at a time, trusting that the One who is the Ground of my being will accompany me.
“For Bowen[i], the goal is not agreement.” This statement made me sit up and take notice. While I believe this, and wrote my doctoral paper from the perspective that unity does not mean unanimity, hearing it so simply stated felt like a blast of cold water on a hot day. It got my attention.
This week at the Festival of Homiletics has been amazing—deep, rich, challenging, and so much more. I have met new people. Last night, a new friend from England and I continued sharing talk and stories. We had been brought together during an impromptu prayer time in response to an incredibly vulnerable and healing sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber. My friend is a newish priest in the Church of England, working fulltime in publishing, and caring for her husband who had a stroke a few years ago. I shared a bit about my journey with Jeff through his cancer and death.
There are different ways to hold on. Standing while riding on the the Metro sometimes requires a firm, if not tight, hold onto the bar. For me, riding a roller coaster leads to a death grip on the bars. Firmly holding the hand of a young child while crossing the street is prudent.
As I am nearing retirement from the itinerant ministry, three biblical characters have come knocking at the door reminding me that others have walked the paths I traverse before me.
For an assignment in seminary, in free verse form, I reflected on the call of Abraham to leave the land he knew to go to a place he had never been. Growing up I had decided that I was going to be an engineer—like my father. I was good at math and at putting things together, and I adored my father.
An interesting thought cycle one morning on my walks this week, prompted by my walking prayers and a meme on Facebook. A cousin posted a meme about raising little boys. It touched me, of course, since I have boys. It was about raising them not just to be men, but husbands and fathers.
In a conversation with a friend, a colleague, a spiritual co-mentor, all wrapped up in the same loveable curly-headed being, as we talked about what this impending transition called retirement means in my life, I had a real sense of where trust in God comes in to play. It can be so easy to talk about trust in God, but in reality it is quite hard. As much as I yearn to trust, as I lean in to trust, I have always had a feeling of standing at a precipice and holding back.