Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Caring for self and others

Good morning friends -

My first “blog” journaled my experiences as a seminary student at 60, telling of my experiences as I entered my third career – years after I had earned the terminal degree in my field – Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Sociology. At 60, I responded to a call to the ministry – some might say I was always in the ministry as I worked in the nonprofit field for many years. Six years later, “Tuesday Thoughts” continues a journey: it is my response to a friend’s query: Do I journal my experiences as a pastor out of my element – new to rural Penna, new to church planting (but not new to starting organizations), in fact, relatively new to ministry? The nonprofit field shares many things in common with ministry: many hours, relatively low pay, high community involvement, as sense of call and, in my case, focused work with those living on the fringes of middle class society.

This day’s thoughts concern self-care issues: I don’t generally put self, exercise, health in my day planner although I try being mindful about this care of me. After this new church is planted, a “me” will continue sharing my life. How will my future self and me be our best?

In September when I did not get to go “home” for vacation some of my time here was spent soul-searching. I understood that if I were to remain in this call – in this church – it would be necessary to take better care of Sharon. September brought more purposeful early day prayer and meditation time. October offers one lunch hour each week for a yoga practice. I have long been a yoga practitioner but had let my practice go when I moved to this area. It feels good to have that hour and a quarter of focusing on my inner self. October also offers the opportunity to say yes to my son’s invitation to spend Thanksgiving with he and his wife in North Carolina. Weather permitting, I will drive the 10 hours each way to bask in family for 48 hours at their home. Still in October, but not the end of my self-care, on Sunday I discovered a Catholic Church in Elmira NY that welcomed me, an ordained UCC/DOC pastor, into their church family. During worship, grace washed over me. I sang, took communion, was blessed and listened as the youth band (three 2- and 3-year olds) played triangle, xylophone and marimba accompanying the congregation gathered as they sang the sending forth song. Since I work Sundays, I can only join this congregation one or two times each month; but it is worth the 1 1/4 hour drive to be ministered to. This opportunity also reminds me of what I need to do for my congregation to assure they are spiritually fed as they attend worship in Pennsylvania. God is indeed good!

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