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.
We spent this day down town shopping at the Green Market. Once again we took our now familiar Omahrhumba bus. This time we walked the short distance to the Market – a collection of stalls that ran for blocks down St. George Street. We were looking for gifts for grandchildren. We had great success. Shopping done we had another slow Africa lunch at a street cafe. I didn’t take pictures this morning. I’m not sure why. Tom did all the bargaining. I am a pushover.
We returned to Leonie’s to gather our stuff. Lynn picked us up right on time and took us to the airport. Our flight was good. We arrived about two hours too late to attend the athletic awards ceremony for the basketball season. Our Jenna won the coach’s award. We were proud to greet her when she got home with hugs and kisses and off course her grandchild gift.
Exhausted everyone went to bed but me. I had a long, slow, sweet smelling bath while I finished my book.
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
Today we consciously think about the car’s gas gauge. We keep one eye on that needle as it slips toward the red line, dreading the next trip to the gas station. The cost of fuel for our cars eats up an ever increasing portion of our weekly budgets. Consequently, most of us endeavour to car pool whenever possible. It’s easy to be aware of the needs of the environment when we are motivated by the amount of money in our wallets or bank accounts.
Our bodies also need the fuel of rest in order to function efficiently. Most youngsters, after a day of school and play, sink into ten or twelve hours of untroubled sleep. Teens tend to enjoy their twelve hours between one a.m. and one p.m. whenever possible. They know their bodies need rest, too.
By the time we reach forty, sleep like gasoline for our cars, feels like an expensive essential luxury. Demands on our time have multiplied. Between our regular day job, and extra-curricular work as family taxi driver and problem solver, housekeeper, community volunteer and whatever else we do, we have to ration out our time for sleep. We’ve developed a pattern of offering our bodies just enough fuel to keep going. Psychologists tell us that sleep deprivation is an effective form of torture. When I look at today’s parents, and some of today’s seniors and young people as well, I see faces grey with fatigue.
What wisdom does the Bible offer for this dilemma? In Genesis, God does the work of creation from morning till evening. Then God stops to rest and proclaim that day’s work good. God repeats this for six days. On the seventh, God rests all day. This simple pattern requires intentionality. Like a long distance runner, we must pace ourselves on life’s journey. Sleep is an essential fuel. We cannot live well without it.
It’s useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night anxiously working for food to eat, for God gives rest to his loved ones. Psalm 127.2