Set Aside (July 12, 2015)

I come from a long line of busy women.  I have been brainwashed from an early age to believe that if I am not constantly moving, then I am lazy.  I have always volunteered for every project that caught my fancy, not because I felt I had to, but because I loved it.  So you can imagine how it feels to be “set aside.”

I am in my ninth year of Medical Leave.  At first we all anticipated I would be off for six to eighteen months. But it didn’t work out that way.  Complications arose, courses of medication took longer than anticipated, and side effects led to organ damage.  I’ve long since concluded that I probably won’t return to parish ministry before retirement age.  And that is difficult.

So is fatigue, and pain.  Now I don’t mean this to be a “whiny” or “why me” column, and I don’t think I’m trying to justify why I’m not as busy as I still think I should be.  I guess I’m trying to explain how hard it is not to be able to do as much as I want to do.  But I’m figuring out there’s a place for this.

Because I am forced to be less active, I have learned to be a better listener.  When people ask if I have a minute, I can honestly answer I have an hour.  Because I have had to rest my eyes, I have knit two charity sweaters – I don’t have to look closely at what I’m doing when I’m knitting, and I find the action soothing.  And, I can pray for the eventual recipient of the sweater.  An added bonus is that the woman who gave me the pattern was a beloved member of the church here in Eureka who recently returned home to God, and I think of her as I knit, and I smile.

I have had time to enjoy the wildlife feeder in my back yard, and to watch the juvenile squirrels as they leap back and forth across the feeder trays and squabble with each other.  There’s a rat living under our deck, and as we try to find a humane way to convince him (or her) to move elsewhere, it’s fascinating to see how it can slip into an impossibly small drainage hole in our deck.

Although we are in a drought, we still have the morning fog which sustains our redwoods and most of our native plants, and it is so peaceful to sit and admire them.  I am grateful for this time to appreciate God’s handiwork.  I confess that if I were on a “normal” schedule, I would be too busy to notice these things, and far too busy to take up my knitting needles.

I keep the Lord always before me;

    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;

    my body also rests secure.  Psalm 16:8-10

Dear Lord, What amazing ministries are springing up around the country!  We are so grateful that hearts and minds are opening to your love, and all your children are finding places in your kingdom.  Help us to learn to discern your calls to busyness and to rest, to learn to see and appreciate all the beauty that surrounds us, and to find joy in whatever the work is that you place before us.  Amen.