This week, with a number of my colleagues, I experienced compassion, not just for us as people, but as clergy. I had signed up for a retreat, an opportunity to rest, learn and relax. I received so much more. There was plenty of learning, personal renewal and connection with colleagues. The retreat setting, Kingfisher Bay resort, provided loving hospitality, fabulous food, and walks in the woods by the lake. I felt refueled by the worship, especially the songs and the scripture. And underlying all of that was the unconditional love and respect for all of us as clergy expressed by the event co-ordinator, Kathleen Whyte. She showered us with caring. She spoke with humility about the joy she received from having the privilege of planning this event just for us.
As we gathered in a circle to say goodbye, Kathleen placed worship stoles around our necks. Kathleen and her friend Dianne Ross had designed, hand made and painted each one for us. Her joy in giving will remain with me always. We all said, “Thank you,” but there are no words to describe the value of Kathleen’s ministry to us.
I offer you this story as a seed for your living. In our lives, we have professional people, trades people, store clerks and more who serve us. When we judge their work good enough, we sometimes remember to offer thanks. Seldom do we consider the gifts of talent, energy and love they bring as a group of clergy, doctors, teachers, electricians, etc. I suggest to you from this week forth, to offer a prayer of thanksgiving to the paid servants that make a difference in our lives. We can follow Kathleen’s example.
Just in case some of you are tired of the last discussion and ready to move on, I offer you this week’s thought for the road.
Gas For the Journey
Our week at “Soul Feast” in North Carolina, this past summer, gave Tom and me some fuel for the journey of life. We met a crowd of caring, friendly people. Worship each day provided inspiration. Workshops offered valuable learning. Sharing a cottage with dear friends meant free time was special. When the week was over, we were reluctant to return home and dive back into the busy stream that is our lives.
Times of renewal are always too short, yet it is their brevity that makes them special and refreshing. Why? Vacations give us a change of scene, and often a reduction in stress, but not always renewal, not always gas for our journey. As people of faith, we can forget that retreats, study evenings or days, and workshops provide opportunities for renewed energy and learning. Regularly, Jesus invited his followers to go up on the mountain or down by the lake, to have time apart to focus on his teachings and on God.
Fall is here, vacation over. It’s time to care for yourself. Check out the Internet and the bulletin board at church. Take advantage of at least one opportunity to learn and grow. Choose your renewal experience carefully. This will be a special gift for your faith. I recommend the Canadian Biblical Storytellers Festival on October 18 and 19 at Richmond Hill United Church, 10201 Yonge St. This promises to be one extremely inspirational experience. Come, listen, learn and grow in your faith.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1-2