I arrived safely in Helena MT. Warren dropped me off at the Burbank Airport. We reminisced about when he and Rachel began coming to the church and talked about Drew, Mande, Trevor, Smallwood, who have left recently, and the network of ‘young adults’ who have connected with one another and became community to each other for the past 5-6 years. I knew the transitions were coming, but now I’m feeling them. I realize how much ‘being church’ is always a process, a journey, and never a destination. I had a brief lay over in Salt Lake City and landed in Helena in the early afternoon. Flying into these cities, over snow capped mountains, frozen prairies, was a meditative experience, but not as strong as flying over Burbank on this clear day. Seeing my city from this different perspective, made me think about the 100,000 plus people who live in our town and our church’s role in this community. The higher elevation allowed me to see the entire city at once, the houses, condos, schools, sports fields, the freeway arteries and side street capillaries carrying people on their morning journey.
Perhaps the morning conversation with Warren was like this perspective from the plane. An overview, to see the big picture, to see the web of relationships and how people have moved from strangers to friends, and then saying goodbye to some. Perhaps my sabbatical will help me reach a higher elevation, to see my ministry and pastoral role from a higher elevation. To see some of the ebbs and flows.
While on the planes, I read an entire book, “Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life,” by Tom Holmes. I read it to prepare for an upcoming series on prayer and meditation that I desire to lead with the young adult Thursday evening group and eventually others. The book forced me to reflect on the ‘big picture’ of my own inner life. Just as I saw the ‘web’ of relations in our church, and of our connected city, so I began to see the web of relationships that are internal to me. I believe each individual has a whole cast of characters within them – these are the “parts” of Parts Work. I can clearly identify certain ‘parts’ or ‘characters’ within me (helper, perfectionist, completive game player, childlike spirit, debater, father, etc…) Some parts are in conflict with each other. Some take center stage when I’m pastoring. Some parts of me have been ignored and I haven’t been mindful of them. I feel that grasping a sense of my inner parts and the web of relationships that are internal to me is central to developing my spiritual life. It sounds paradoxical, but I need the ‘big picture” of what is most interior to me, my own complex self.
Well, I’m only a few hours into my sabbatical and already my mind and soul are activated. I thought it was just going to be a travel day.
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