March in River City is hard to describe. It sort of feels like spring--Daylight Savings Time, Lent--but also like winter--snow, cold, snow. It is a betwixt and between sort of time, and that is where I am and the church too...
But all in good ways, I hasten to say! The church where we have shared ministry (the congregation I serve leases the space) has reluctantly decided to close the building...they are tentatively planning to share space with another congregation of their denomination. As they made this decision and explored their alternatives, they made it clear to their prospective partners that our congregation was part of the deal...we had to be welcome wherever they went, an affirmation of the work we do that was a real blessing. A couple of weeks ago, we visited our possible new home, and were delighted, both with the space and the people--they were warm and genuinely welcoming. We have already begun to form connections with them, and actually had some we weren't aware of.So now begins the discussions and work of figuring all the details out. Keep us in prayer as we work through details of contracts, timelines and logistics!
Personally... I am in a new (six months) relationship, and we continue to work out the ways in which we will be together. We are better together--at least I know I am better with her--and we both want this to work, very much. We are doing the work we need to do.
I don't know if I've mentioned--probably not, I have been terrible about blogging the last couple of years--but I adopted a cat in the spring, almost a year ago now. Bobcat is a sweet tuxedo boy from the local humane society. From either an accident early in his life or an encounter with some kind of machinery, he has only a four-inch tail. Hence the name... He is very loving and playful, likes the sun in the bathroom window, and is nuts over catnip.
About a year and a half ago, I was appointed to the board of directors of a community organisation to fill the term of someone who has resigned, and then became president (I had served on this board several years ago and been involved with the organisation from its beginning). At the last general meeting, I was re-elected to the board and again named president. Frankly, this position is a mixed bag! The organisation in the midst of transitioning from a hands-on board, where the board was pretty much simply the people most active, to a supervising board working through committees to get the actual work of the organisation done. So there are some rough patches here too, as we (the Board) educate and re-train ourselves as well as re-organise the organisation and re-educate the community... The good news here is that the Board as a whole recognises the changes coming and is working hard to change.
Back in early January, I received the all-clear from the local cancer centre! This is indeed good news! It means they are no longer following me, and I have been released back to my family doctor's care.
Also in January, we (the church) celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary! That may not seem like much--I have served churches celebrating their 150th and 40th anniversaries--but for this congregation, it is indeed a milestone, as precarious as its position has been from time to time over the years. We celebrated with a big gala dinner at a downtown hotel on the river, and a huge worship celebration the next morning, both graced by the presence of the founder of our denomination, now retired. It was one of the highlights of my life, I have to say. Not only did everything happen without any hitches (a miracle in itself), but the feeling and spirit all weekend was one of unity, caring, love--in other words, grace. Just a wonderful wonderful weekend, from the dinner on Friday night with the founder and the church board (and spouses) to the gala dinner attended by many friends from other local churches and the community to the worship service on Sunday...just amazing. We had good press coverage too, both TV and radio, with stories and interviews.
A couple weeks ago, looking back over the last few months and year, I have realised I need to stop and take stock again--where am I, where do I need to go, how do I get there, and what do I need in order to get there? How do I feel about all this? I did go on a brief retreat back in the summer, but it was too short, sandwiched in among many other activities, and at a new site, that, while, welcoming and pleasant, didn't give me the quiet and detachment I needed. So I booked a five-day retreat in April at my favourite retreat centre...I am so looking forward to it. Just everything about it fits my needs--far enough away that I am definitely gone, but not so far that I spend a lot of time or money getting there; isolated (the centre itself as well as the cabins, both geographically and in terms of telecommunications--no internet, but cell service if I need/want it), affordable, quiet, with everything I need--chapel, library, mediation loft, walking trails, gardens (which should be just beginning to bloom when I am there)... It is my little bit of heaven on earth, and I am, in case you hadn't noticed, looking forward to my time there very much!
To deal with the stress of the leadership of this board as well as pastoring (two leadership roles in a reletively small community), I have had to look at my life and some changes. One of those is my eating habits... I have a family history of diabetes, and my weight and diet are not helping to keep me from developing diabetes myself. So I am cutting down on the carbs, watching the sugar, reducing the fat, increasing the fruits and veggies, trying to add more fish...making choices for chicken or turkey over beef when I am eating out, etc. Feeling better physically will certainly help.
Another change I am contemplating is adding yoga to my routine. Once upon a time way back in high school, I was a practitioner for a brief time. I would like to go back to it, for many reasons. One is to try to regain some of the flexibility I had when I was younger, to help the arthritis that is beginning to make itself known. another is stress relief (see above), which, I hope, will also help with weight loss--I tend to eat comfort food (i.e. high fat and carbo stuff) to relax and destress, and my plan is to use yoga to help with destressing instead. I'm looking into two different studios here in River City--one has a class schedule that fits better into my routine, while the other is within walking distance (just barely, but walking distance) of my home. So do I go for convenience or a bit more exercise? I plan to attend a class at each and see which feels better.
To further help with the stress relief, I've made a list of my favourite (healthy) destress activities (walking by the river, coffee with a friend, browing in the public library, etc.) and plan to refer to it as needed.
If this all sounds a little planned and contrived, well...I need some structure to help me begin these changes. My hope/plan is that before long they will simply be a part of my life.
Have any of you made changes in your life like this? What worked for you and what didn't work? Any words of advice?