(Day 47) A day of reflection and discernment...

Tuesday August 2nd will mark the end of my 4th week on the road.  Today marks the end of my first week here in Oregon - a week that has been full of activity, conversations and reflection.  The visits to the various prisons in the area have been most helpful.  Connecting with other Chaplains and Administrators has reinforced the value of some of the things I do, opened my mind to new ideas and possibilities for ministry, exposed me to new resources and polices, practices and procedures, and forced me to think at deeper levels on the theological rationale for prison ministry.

It's all about relationships.
It's all about the human being finding/creating/naming its worth.
It's all about relationships.
The Divine is the relationships.

Today I had my first ever session with a Spiritual Director.  Peggy was her name.  In addition to degrees in theology she also holds a PhD in psychology.  She invited me to speak about how I arrived here and then she asked me, after explaining a little about Spiritual Direction to speak about "where I was experiencing the Divine... or not...  what is it that is bring you gratitude at this point?

So much to be thankful for.  I began to speak of the gifts of hospitality that I have received on this journey thus far from friends, family, members of former congregations, the Sisters here, various Chaplains and inmates.  I spoke of the gift of this time that has been provided and the gift of support that Anna has offered in supporting my absence.  I spoke of how much I missed my family and she asked me, "Is it possible that the Divine is present in that absence?"  I thought about that for a moment.  Silent.  I began to nod.  Yes, this absence has given me an even deeper appreciation of what I mean to them and they mean to me.

And then I spoke of my loneliness.  Of the silence at the breakfast table.  Of how I appreciate silence but that I have missed conversing when people are in my presence (the Sisters here do not talk during meals).  I then wondered out loud how I should go home.  I spoke about how I had spent the morning plotting and planning routes.  A direct route would take me home in about seven days and 6700 KM.  The route I had planned before leaving would be 16 days and 9500 KM.  A modified route (minus the Grand Canyon) would be  8300 KM and 13 days.

I spoke about how I had already decided that I would not visit the Grand Canyon.  There is a possibility that we may get to Arizona as a family this winter and we could do that together.  I spoke about how the routes I have laid out will allow me a day on the road to make a decision.  Upon reaching Boise, ID I will decide whether to head further south into Utah and west into Colorado (Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley, Million Dollar Highway) or, to head straight east on Interstate 80.

"What will influence your decision?"  Hmmm.... good question.  How much I miss home.  The weather (heat).  How I am feeling about where I am at?  

"Fear?"  "Obligation?"  "Possibility?"  "Commitment?"  "Adventure?"

Hmmmm... I was silent.

What to do?  Anna has made so many sacrifices already and I can tell that she is tired from dealing with all the stuff at home by herself.  Maybe I just need to go home.  But I know, if I just get on the Interstate and slab it home, while I may get some enjoyment out of that, I will end up regretting it.  Or, I could head north - where it is cooler and visit folk on the way home...  I don't know...  I trust that it will become clearer by Friday next week.  If you have any wisdom... drop me a note!

Peggy urged me to name what was life giving about this time of Sabbath,  And so I did: engaging conversations, dinners with friends, times of quiet, and reflective music.  And then she asked, "What can you incorporate into your daily life so as to prolong the Sabbath experience?"  Hmmmm... more dinners with friends, leave my desk at lunch time and find some quiet or music... I'll think more about this...

With this, our hour was finished... and in a way I was left with more questions than answers - but at the same time - a deep sense of peace...

I was going to go to Silver Falls today but it was just too hot.  Instead I did some errands, called home and had a little nap.  When it cools off I'm going to head to Silverton for supper and a craft brew. 

...on the Sabbath Road...


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