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Musings, To Sit With Not Knowing: October 18th

Last week my sharing was rather raw. Some might argue that I “put too much out there” or, that as a leader, I was too vulnerable. Perhaps I did and maybe I was – but I don’t regret it. There is much about ministry that most folk don’t understand – among those things is the vicarious trauma, the waking at 4am burdened with one situation or another and all one can do is reflect and try to make sense of in one’s writing and preaching.

In sharing as I did last week I was so deeply moved by the number of folk who reached out and offered encouragement and support. Thank you. Your acts of listening without needing to fix me or the situations I was wrestling with are deeply appreciated.

On Saturday Carrie Newcomer, an artist I was introduced to while attending a Courage to Lead seminar in Madison Wisconsin posted an image of one of her new poems, a poem found in her new book Until Now: New Poems cradled me in ways that her music has during other tumultuous time in my life. The poem is titled I’m Learning to Sit With Not Knowing.

I so needed these words. For so long I have lived as if everything could be known, figured out and fixed with more time and/or more energy.

I'm learning to sit and listen To pat myself on the knee. Lay my hand on my heart...  I'm learning to sit with not knowing.  

The whole poem can be found below. Might it resonate with you during these uncertain days. Might the words Carrie offers hold you in your unknowing and give you hope for what might waltz in an surprise you.

Carrie’s poem, together with a more academic article shared with my ‘clergy cluster’ by Janice MacLean from the Congregational Consulting Group, Overwhelm: Not a Problem to be Solved written by Susan Beaumont, have together both reinvigorated me and allowed me space to step back and consider what is truly important and to assess my gifts and abilities against that. The article concludes with these words:

Overwhelm is a natural byproduct of leading in a liminal season. If you are experiencing overwhelm, it is not a sign that you are failing. It is symptomatic of an organization going through deeply adaptive work. Consider it your invitation to step back, observe and lead from a different place.


Looking Ahead

Today was again one of those days that began at 4AM with some reflection and writing. In the office this morning I am working on these Musings and beginning to prepare for the funeral of Kenny Dunlop which I will offer leadership at on Tuesday afternoon. And as I prepare for this funeral I am holding the family and friends of Pat Belliveau and Joan Trenholm in care and prayer as they grieve the deaths of these two women. This evening I will be present at the Trinity St. Stephen United Church Council meeting in my role of Pastoral Charge Supervisor.

Tomorrow morning, before and after the Preacher’s Help Group I will be working on finalizing the reflection and liturgy for the funeral service that I will lead that afternoon.

I have three pastoral visits booked for Wednesday followed by the Virtual Supper at 5PM, a meeting in respect to Sackville Pride 2021 at 5:30PM and the SUC Executive meeting at 6:30PM.

Thursday will be devoted to preparing the liturgy and sermon for Sunday. Have a look at the texts for Sunday and if you have an idea for a sermon send it along!! Thursday evening I will take part in the final Adaptive Leadership workshop offered by Edge.

Friday, if all goes according to plan, I hope to make my way to Wolfville with my former colleague and friend Peg, for a meeting with students at the Acadia Divinity College to talk about prison chaplaincy as a vocation.

On Saturday from 12:30PM until 5:00PM I will be participating in the 43RD GENERAL COUNCIL, 2021 – ANNUAL MEETING. No doubt one of the most significant items on the agenda will be Refinements to the Assessment Formula.

And on Sunday we’ll gather at 11AM in-person and via Facebook Live to celebrate all that has been and prepare ourselves for the week to come. May it be so!

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