I am transitioning in my ministry career from full time chaplaincy at Timbercrest Senior Living Community to being full time District Executive Minister for the south/central Indiana district of the Church of the Brethren. I don’t see as much discontinuity between those two roles as many folks have expressed… realities of compassion fatigue, transition, loss, and uncertainty are potent dynamics in both settings. In both roles, the asking of good questions and the careful listening to the depths of spirits are essential. Paperwork and meetings abound, some more urgent or fraught than others, but all an outworking of what it means to do ministry in each place with that setting’s people.
However, after almost 5 years at Timbercrest, even having gotten “good” at goodbyes over the years, I knew it would take me some time to gently lay down that place and those good people into the hands of the God who has good plans for them. I knew it would take some time for me to get my feet back under me, to find myself solidly on this new path, ready to welcome these new people fully into my minister’s heart. So I asked for 2 weeks between the two, and I took a train trip to Colorado.
Walking during big transitions has become an essential ritual in my life. So I joined a friend on walks every day and watched unleashed dogs frolic in the snow. And I took the train, letting my body travel “at the speed of my soul” (as Carrie Newcomer sings it). There is something about not turning right on red lights, not trying to get quickly from one place to another, not adhering to a schedule, that reminds me that my body and spirit have a rhythm of their own that I do well to listen to.
The train is not a good choice if you have a deadline, if you’re in a hurry, if you’re feeling chatty or restless. It is a good choice if you want to let yourself settle into the gentle rocking rhythm, breathe into the quiet night, stare acceptingly at the landscape that rolls by.
There is something about reminding ourselves to let transitions, goodbyes, rest, quiet take as long as they take to make their movement through us. Because who are we kidding… they will never conform to our schedules and task lists anyway! When we honor the “speed of soul” in deep, shifting moments, we can find a gentle, rocking rhythm that lulls us toward center, toward God.
I am so grateful for the transition, for all who facilitated it and joined me in it and blessed me in it. I feel rested and ready to take up new work in a day or two… with two more train trips between here and there.