Friday, March 5, 2010

Another Side of Discernment

A teen-age girl, new to the church, asks for an explanation of Lent and how she might observe it, and for recommendations on purchasing a Bible.

A friend from my Methodist church days whose son is marrying a Hindu woman this summer emails about finding ideas for their wedding.

A woman who is involved with the church retreat a friend and I designed for this week is bubbling over with delight at having discovered new ways into a life of prayer.

A Catholic director involved with the same retreat is looking for Presbyterian lectionary resources so that she can offer help to someone in our denomination.

I realize over and over again through this week of rather considerable effort that several years ago I had expressed the hope that one day I would be knowledgeable enough to meld Catholic and Protestant traditions into retreat work and -- voila! it seems that I am doing exactly that. (OK. Not exactly voila! It's been four years of preparation.)

A newly-ordained pastor friend and I have a Facebook conversation about some of the practical ~ building repairs and money ~ issues facing her congregation, and about how those matters (which I have thought I might like to avoid, since I face them every day with my own house) have to do with identity and mission. Who are you? How do you use your resources? What face do you present to the world? How is your place a launching pad for what you have to share?

All of these things look like ordinary, in-the-middle-of-daily-life conversations, internal and external.

But maybe not.

I have been in such out-of-the ordinary situations for so long, so shaken by what has happened in our family and having to deal with one crisis hard upon another, several of which I have not blogged about and each of which would be considered by any rational person to be more than enough for any one year ~ have I completely forgotten that God is in all things? That God is reaching out for us in all the events of our daily lives?

And have I forgotten that if I am in ministry I get to be a witness to that? That I get to help people with the little steps that all together, in sequence and in a jumble, make it possible to grow into a life of attentiveness to God?


  1. Robin, I keep uncovering more loss that pushed folks to the very margins of the faith community I am now serving. There have been several times in the past few weeks when I have found myself asking "How would Robin respond." I've gone back and reread your blog entries for clues. But I have been hesitant to ask for guidance, having some sense of how much you have on your plate. For what it is worth, my own sense is that the church in it's broadest sense, would be extraordinarily blessed if you chose a ministry of "the every day." Prayers for good, clear gentle light to light your way as make these decisions...

  2. Well, to me, your question shows that you have not forgotten this. If you want to remember it more, your question is a perfect place to begin follow that longing. I tend to think it's all God calling - God in the longing, and God, the answer to the longing. Your congregation or pastoral care receivers will be blessed by your openness and awareness.

  3. The shock and trauma of your year can drive away the ability to think about more likely just shatters and scatters all thoughts to the wind. I sense that you are regathering all the pieces and forming a cohesive response for those who are suffering. And though there are few "answers", there is a response that helps ease suffering. That is what you are finding, and will give to others, and ultimately also to yourself.

  4. I love that your experiences and training and formation are all blending into "ministry"...small blessing in light of the suffering, challenges and difficulties of the last few years...but hopefully signs of grace, nonetheless.

  5. I gave you an award (on my blog) today. I also wanted to share the posting on my friend Diane's blog with you about prayer - it's linked in the award posting. XO

  6. you didn't forget... every time you write... we know... even if you don't. what's even more awesome is this... God knows.