Monday, 29 February 2016

closing my eyes and seeing clearly

On my way home just now, taking the long way round with a walk through the Meadows on a crisp sunny late winter's day, I was building myself up for a vitriolic rant against an institution from which I at times feel very disconnected, by which I feel forgotten and even abandoned out here on the limb they are pleased to name 'pioneering'. I would only have deleted that, though, for what does an angry rant achieve?

But the last few steps towards my flat brought a dawning of realisation. I have forgotten. I have turned my back. I have disconnected. Not from the institution, but from the Divine.

I think I had actually realised this during communion, without quite putting the words to it; as we sang songs after having received communion, I could not sing for the silent weeping that took me by surprise.

And now I see that I felt alone because I forgot in whose company I have chosen to reside.

It may be that I need to challenge my church to work with me more. Though there is some money, for which I am grateful, there is little by way of communication, accountability, care.

I am ordained, but not currently in a placement within a presbytery of the church, and so I am beyond the structures. I try to stay connected, to communicate the story of this season abroad, for the learning and exploring I am doing is not for me alone but for us together. I know friends within the church are interested, reciprocate communication, pray and also sacrifice their resources in support. But the Church, those in positions serving the church? I hear so little in response to the sharing of my story; I hear so little in response to the offers of my gifts – not nothing, I hasten to add, the month of April in Adelaide will be busy enough. But I send more birds that come back empty beaked than ones with life-giving branches.

I am ordained, and chose this path (or accepted its choice of me) for the particular relationship an ordained person has with their community, their church; the accountability and mutuality of service and of care. This is not the first time I have ventured beyond the known shore of church life and practice to explore new ways of being for our time. The church is happy to send me off, but seems to always turn quickly back inland, not watch where I am going, or help me help them leave the shore themselves. (I don't claim to be the only one, but I can only speak for myself)  This feels like being forgotten and abandoned. It feels like a rejection, when I say I do this for us all, but what I offer is not received.

It is easy to get angry, to lay blame and cry foul.

But I see, today, that if I feel alone just now, feel far from home, it is not only the physical distance from Australia, not only the lack of communication with my church. I have not been nurturing my connection to my spiritual home, my home within the embrace of the Divine. I have closed my eyes to where I reside and have not eaten food to nurture my soul.

'Rest here,' Martin said as he invited us to the Table this morning.* Rest. I am so weary. I closed my eyes and saw clearly at last that I have been relying on my own energy. What a fool.

It is much harder to accept responsibility for my own error, and reinstitute those habits so readily abandoned when they are the very thing I need.


Hold me accountable, dear community of friends, supporters, family of faith scattered all around the world. Let us hold each other accountable, and to do that we will need to communicate, and to care.

Are you sailing on your own steam, too? What will nurture your soul, feed your spirit, remind you of the home in which you reside, the renewing embrace of the Divine?



*watch for this week's Midweek Musing, a guest post featuring the reflection from Martin Richie this morning at Greyfriars Kirk.

2 comments:

Heather said...

Why is it so easy to forget the one who sails to distant shores, whom we have sent with our blessings and promises of support?
It is possible I suppose to blame life's busyness and our diffused focus, both individually and as representatives of an institution.
Structures need to be in place.
The calendar of someone in head office could say: Ding. Contact Sarah Agnew. Ask how she's going.
I am disappointed for you that this is not happening enough.
I am much releived that some individuals do so! Ding - Send Sarah an email. Connect with her blog. Find her on Facebook and respond.
I am inspired too, by your honest reflection on self-nurture by keeping consciously in touch with the Divine. Ruts are so easy to fall into; ruts which become ditches from which we cry out, not realising that we also sat here.
It's complicated: blaming is not so useful, but lessons learned are, I guess. If it feels like being alone and you can't with all honesty see that you are not - and I know that feeling well! - then I shall remind you.
We are not alone
Thanks be to God

Glenys said...

Thanks, Heather, for saying this so well. Sarah, I feel a bit out of words just now so I say what she said...