Canoeing is not exactly something any of us think about this time of year (unless you are heading to a warmer climate for vacation.) However, canoeing is exactly what I am inviting you to think about as we embark upon our journey toward your new settled pastor. And while I have just gotten here, the purpose for my mission with you is to get you to the proverbial Pacific Ocean where a new journey with a new leader will begin.
The reason I am using the canoeing metaphor is based on a request I made of your Board when I interviewed for this mission. I asked them to read Todd Bolsinger's book, Canoeing the Mountains, to prepare for the work we would be doing; first as the leadership body and then as a congregation. Imagine my surprise when I got here and discovered that the book group had already embarked on reading the book! Imagine my continued delight to discover that another group was forming, and that people were already engaging in wonderful dialogues around the content.
Yes, the Lewis and Clark metaphor definitely has its limitations, but, for those of us living in the terminus of their westward journey, we have a particular understanding of the grit, flexibility, trust, resourcefulness, curiosity and resilience that it took to go over the LoLo Pass in the winter of 1805. My one attempt to go to Bend a few weeks ago reminded me that winter in the Cascades is nothing but unpredictable! And isn't unpredictability exactly what we are being asked to make peace with? Isn't the state of not knowing and unlearning while moving toward our proverbial "Pacific" what these years of the Pandemic has asked of us?
And what is this "Pacific" that we are traveling toward? While not a physical Northwest Passage, surely a metaphysical one. A passage that will bring easier communication, healthier relationships, clearer vision, greater opportunities to serve and a wider welcome for all of God's Beloveds; this is what I was asked to lead you toward. I am excited to be sitting in the back of the canoe, waiting for you to jump in and help paddle into the mountains where we will need to leave the boats behind and make our way by foot to the other side.
So, grab your paddles, take just what you need, and let's push off into our uncharted territory together. The Spirit will surely guide us safely there.
To the Journey!