The primary reason for the trip was to see my advisor at CDSP about my thesis for a D. Min. I am not happy with the data I've collected and proposed some additional work. The thesis is on preaching in the interim time and has two parts, the first is how I use what is happening in the congregation to inform my preaching (the easy part) and assessing the feedback (if any) to see if my message is getting across. (the harder part). I also needed to find someone to replace a member of my committee who is now at another seminary.
I also got to go up to Sebastapol and spend a day (and night) with my friends Rod and Mary. Rod is recently retired, but seems to be working as hard as usual, finishing up work on committees for the diocese and his Rotary presidency.
I also got to go over to Sausalito to church. It's been over five years since I did the interim there and they seem to be doing quite well. They've put in a brand new kitchen in the parish hall that came in under expected cost and it's beautiful and so much more useful than the old one. Of course I was there the week after Easter and there was no choir and a somewhat depleted congregation, but that's Low Sunday for you. It was fun speaking with parishioners I knew and basking in their praise.
I really do love the San Francisco Bay Area, but the prices are still out of reach. David took me out for some wonderful meals while I was at his house. The most memorable of which was at a fantastic Chinese restaurant in Lafayette.
The week that I returned has been a very busy one. I did a workshop with a group in a church in Auburn. I was training them to facilitate small group meetings to start an Appreciative Inquiry process. They are working to discover what God is calling them to be at this point in their life as a congregation and make plans on how to get there.
Then yesterday I drove to Brewer to start working with the search committee. The fastest way to get there is to drive up the coast, and even though it was a drizzly morning, the views of the ocean along the way and the wonderful yellows of forsythia and daffodils and the occasional white blossoms on fruiting trees was soothing to the soul. The willows are nearly in leaf and have that pale green haze on their hanging branches. My Izzie enjoys car trips so I had her squirmy company on the two hour journey. The committee and I decided that it would be far more efficient to work with me via Skype than for me to make a lot of trips up to Brewer. That suits me.
Here is a blessing for times of search:
The God of Truth bless you with the discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficiality so that you live and make decisions from deep within your heart. Amen
The God of Understanding make you tender in the face of pain and rejection so that others can know the comfort of your acceptance. Amen
The God of Justice make you fierce in the face of oppression and exploitation so that others can live with dignity in the midst of your respect. Amen
The God of all Wisdom bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can lead other to do what many claim cannot be done. Amen.
And the Blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Life Giving Spirit keep you as Jesus' friends, in your search for a new leader, and forever. Amen.
(The blessing is from Rob Voyle's "Assessing and Discerning Calls.")