Ministry Notes

October 2019

As I write this, I’m contemplating a trip to England and Scotland. Part of the trip will be a pilgrimage to the island of Iona. Kris and I will spend a week hiking, leaning about Christianity in Scotland, as well as learning and practicing different meditation techniques.

The island is small, rocky and there are no motorized vehicles. To go somewhere you have to walk. Iona is often referred to as a “thin place.” A place where the separation between God and human is thin. One day we will be part of a silent retreat, we will not be able to speak to any of the other participants. That will be interesting!

To be honest, I’m a mixture of being excited and a little scared. I’m always a little apprehensive about doing new things. I guess that’s the conservative in me; I like predictability and familiarity. And I’m also excited to see where God might lead me during this opportunity. I’ll have plenty of time to do some reading and reflecting.

Many of the participants will be keeping a daily journal. I might try that, but I’m inclined to think I’ll be scratching down disconnected thoughts and trying my hand at writing a poem or two.

We will be staying in an Abby. And frankly, I don’t even know what that means! I imagine it means no television, probably no internet or cell phone. That will be a challenge… Being so totally disconnected, I wonder how that will go? The Twins might win the pennant and I won’t even know about it.

The transforming thing about travel is getting out of your usual element and putting yourself in situations where you don’t have control. There is vulnerability in traveling. Relying on others to help can be both humbling and insightful. We’ll see how the trip goes…

There’s a concept in older adult ministry called “the monastery.” When life slows down and people have less mobility to get out and about, our world becomes smaller. Those of us who are still in our busy years can’t imagine how limiting that is. But when we talk to those who have become home bound, sometimes we hear a different story.

I remember a conversation one day… I asked a home bound widow, if it was difficult staying home all alone, all day long. She said, “I get up and make coffee, I read the bible, I say some prayers and take a nap. Then I make some supper, I read the bible, I say some prayers and take a nap. Then I try to do some work, I read the bible, say some prayers and go to bed.”

It sounded boring, so I asked if she’d ever thought of changing her routine. She said, “No, God is right with me every moment of the day.” Her house became a monastery. And her life was rich in relationship with God.

I’ll be interested to see what happens in my “little” monastery experience. And I’ll be excited to come home and share some new experiences.

Blessings, my friends…


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