Labyrinth Walking: Integrative Journeys for Renewal

If you could see / the journey whole / you might never / undertake it; / might never dare
the first step / that propels you / from the place / you have known /toward the place
you know not.
Call it / one of the mercies / of the road: / that we see it / only by stages
as it opens / before us, / as it comes into / our keeping / step by / single step.
There is nothing / for it / but to go / and by our going / take the vows / the pilgrim takes:
to be faithful to / the next step; / to rely on more / than the map; / to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream; / to follow the star / that only you / will recognize;
to keep an open eye / for the wonders that / attend the path; / to press on / beyond distractions / beyond fatigue / beyond what would / tempt you / from the way.
There are vows / that only you / will know; / the secret promises / for your particular path/and the new ones / you will need to make / when the road / is revealed / by turns
you could not / have foreseen.
Keep them, break them, / make them again: / each promise becomes / part of the path; / each choice creates / the road / that will take you/to the place / where at last / you will kneel
to offer the gift / most needed - / the gift that only you / can give - / before turning to go / home by / another way.
“For Those Who Have Far to Travel” by Jan Richardson

I have served in ordained ministry for over 19 years, and for the past 14+ years, I have balanced a combination of pastoral ministry and seminary teaching. I am a pastor, seminary professor, licensed massage therapist, mother to a seven-year-old, partner to another ordained minister who serves a separate congregation, poet, and theological writer; and I am thoroughly committed to each of these roles. Yet, I have never had a sabbatical set aside for rest, renewal, reflection, and writing. My body is tired yet needs physical activity, and I long for concentrated time to write and refresh my imagination. As I move deeper into my career of integrating pastoral ministry and theological education, I recognize more clearly that this kind of renewal time is essential to remain focused, creative, healthy, and centered. This was the rationale I presented in April as part of our application for a Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Grant.

When I opened the envelope and saw that we had been awarded the grant, I was shocked and overwhelmed and bewildered. Was this real? I struggled to believe it. Yet earlier in that same afternoon, I had met with someone and told him to accept the kindness and gifts he had been given—even though he was struggling with self-doubt and did not believe he deserved such goodness. I assured him he did deserve such goodness. But now, it was my turn. . . .

Sometimes, we struggle to receive gifts of affirmation and love. Even when we desperately need them. And that is the challenge I am confronting right now. It is a beautiful and blessed challenge.

The theme of our Lilly proposal, “Labyrinth Walking: Integrative Journeys for Renewal,” represents my active, mindful, and intentional pursuit of professional integration and personal renewal. I hope that it will help me—and help me help others—navigate both interior and exterior challenges and to garner inner resources that will enable social action. I long for greater integration—in myself and in our faith community—between presence and courage, head and heart, reason and faith, experience and intellect, prayer and social action. And I believe labyrinth walking can teach us ways to balance personal devotion with concern for all God’s children and God’s world. This is my hope, anyway. And I am grateful to be with you on this journey.

See you in church,


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